Skip to comments.In the House, Is 80 Over the Hill?
Posted on 05/24/2012 6:27:06 AM PDT by Kaslin
When Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., lost the GOP primary to challenger Richard Mourdock this month, Beltway types saw the voters' verdict as a victory for the tea party and a defeat for the kind of Republican who could work across the aisle. I think Lugar, 80, lost because he is out of touch with Indiana. He started the primary registered to vote at an Indiana home he had sold in 1977. The Lugars have resided in Virginia ever since. Lugar had been working in Washington for so long that he didn't realize he needed to keep up at least the appearance of being a Hoosier.
No doubt, Lugar's fate sent a chill through the spine of Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif. Like Lugar, Stark, 80, owns one home -- not in California but in Maryland.
There are 12 octogenarians in the House of Representatives. I thought of Lugar when I saw a tweet by the Daily Kos Elections folks that announced that six of them -- Reps. Ralph Hall, R-Texas; Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.; John Conyers, D-Mich.; Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.; Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.; and Stark -- "could lose." One, Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., is retiring.
Does age matter? By itself, I'd say no -- although my 81-year-old father says that all things being equal, he wouldn't vote for someone his age.
Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., is retiring at 68, young enough, he said, to "still have a life afterward." He believes the answer varies by individual; some octogenarians are "alert, committed (and) physically and mentally able to do the job." He named Hall and Conyers as examples. Others, he said, "have stayed too long."
Eric Sterling, president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, was an attorney for the House Judiciary Committee. He thinks the dividing line is whether members think that they serve you or that "they're entitled to the office."
In the list of octomembers, a few names do not do the institution proud. Conyers sat back while his Detroit politician wife sought a taxpayer-funded attorney -- because she was indigent -- to appeal her plea bargain in a federal bribery case. He was earning $174,000 a year.
In 2010, the House censured Rangel for 11 Ethics Committee violations. One instance involved Rangel's push for $6 million in earmarks for a Rangel Center for Public Service. Hasn't Rangel done enough public service?
Stark's uncivil remarks -- he called one colleague a "whore," another a "fruitcake" -- have made him a staple in Esquire's "10 Worst Members of Congress" list. He is so problematic that when ethics problems forced Rangel to step down as House Ways and Means Committee chairman, House Dems ignored their seniority system when replacing him and passed over Stark.
Stark didn't look particularly in touch when, at a San Francisco Chronicle editorial board meeting, he erroneously accused me of giving money to an opponent.
Sterling observes that when senior members walk the halls, all they hear is "yes, Mr. Chairman." They are "swaddled in adoration everywhere that they go. It's intoxicating. I think it can be as addictive as cocaine."
Rangel and Stark got hooked on privilege a long time ago. They were embarrassments to the House long before they turned 80. They didn't much care, and neither did their constituents. But eventually, even a sense of entitlement can get old.
Speaking of John Conyers and the perpetual life of privilege, he has more unhappy neighbors in the city and state he’s supposed to represent.
Personally I’d give Charlie Leduff a national show.
I’m proud that my congressman was among those who took heat for sleeping in his office because he doesn’t intend to live in Washington.
If those 80 yr olds have been in place since before Ronald Reagan, they need to find a new day "job."
Besides the great age gap, they have lived waaaay too long in DC to have a clue how life is at home for their constituencies.
80 is way to old for congress critters.
They really have no idea how the modern world operates or an understanding of current public policy issues.
AND at 80, even if smart, they know ALL THE WROMG THINGS.
The FDR contagion needs to be cleansed, along with the LBJ virus.
At a maximum, 65 and out for public service, at ANY level.
Public service should not be a CAREER, it should be an honor and duty to serve, then move on.
If the government is so complex that it takes 20 years of criminality to work the levers of power, then it is too big and needs to be down-sized.
$10 says Lugar will never “come home” to Indiana.
Bob Dole says, “ Bob Dole will not be returning to Kansas.”
The single reason for anyone to stay is POWER!
Yeah, as the contest proved, Lugar doesn't and hasn't even had any kind of residence anywhere (even his mom's, sister's, or even a distant cousin's home) in which to lay his head plus I'm certain that many, many other Sens & Reps dims or GOP, no matter, it's the same culture.
Time to shut it down.
One of the biggest problems with out government is that our politicians go to Washington and lose touch with where they are from.
This is the 21st century. There is no need for politicians to live in Washington. Most of Washington should be closed and turned into one big Museum of how governments were run in ancient times.
He didn't have a challenger in the primary but lost the general election to a Republican.
I think there was a court ruling at the time suggesting property ownership was not a qualification but the electorate thought otherwise.
“At a maximum, 65 and out for public service, at ANY level.”
That would have meant no Reagan.
80, however, -is- “too old”.
Age 75 might be a better number.
Government is now a vast insider trading scheme. The most obscure legislation has the power to enrich these people and their cohorts beyond your imagination. That's why they hang on to power and are not really interested in ideology, the Constitution, or you. State government? Read Howie Carr. Government IS the Mafia.... a Mafia that can't even keep the old neighborhood safe.
Yep. I can hear him muttering now ... "those ingrateful hoosiers won't have DICK lugar to kick around anymore ...."
Not that it will ever happen, but Congresscritters in both houses should have to retire at the retirement age that they set for Social Security. That would have at least two benefits - 1) they would actually raise the retirement age for SS which would slow death spiral for that program and 2) it would prevent people like Robert Byrd from showing up for work when they are way past the point of coherence.
as for 80 being too old for Congress or even the White House, yes...I believe enough brain cells are diminished that they do not make good decisions plus your energy level is slowed down tremendously...I worked with the aged and ill for many years, and the closer 70 approaches me the more I realize that my ship has also sailed and am just happy living my retired quiet life with the same man for 53 years!!!!
I do not want OLD Farts making world changing decisions...so I hope they all get voted OUT.
If you cant beat Harry Reid in an arm wrestling contest you have to retire.
As Yakov said, "America, is this a Great Country or what!"