Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tom Harkin

I forgot to write a post about Tom Harkin's decision, announced over the weekend, not to seek re-election next year.

I've never been a big Harkin fan, but make no mistake about it: the Americans with Disabilities Act was a major, major accomplishment. Harkin doesn't get the credit alone; just in the Senate, Bob Dole was a major player. But if that's all he had done in his career, and it isn't, Harkin would still have left a lasting mark. I mean, literally. Young'ns may not realize that things such as regular curb cuts at intersections didn't exist in many (most?) places before the ADA passed in 1990. I mean, let alone the employee protections, and other provisions.

Meanwhile, with John Kerry confirmed as Secretary of State today, we have four Senators from the 113th Congress who won't be around for the 114th: Kerry (who will be 71 in January 2015), Harkin (75), Jay Rockefeller (77), and Saxby Chambliss (71). Jim DeMint is gone; he'll be only 63 by then. The big one yet to drop, still, is Frank Lautenberg (would be 90); at the very least, he's under a lot of pressure. So on the old, old, Senate, we're off to a pretty good start for the next cycle as far as exits are concerned; now we just need some new Senators (such as Tim Scott) in their 30s and 40s.

Rumor has it that Harkin's ADA was responsible for the loss of the fabulous Skyway to Fantasyland, but a bit of quick research suggests that's not true. When the ADA passed, there were plenty of predictions that similar disruptions would be common, and for all I know some businesses really were harmed by the need to comply with the law. Even so: the gains from it were immediate and long-lasting, and as far as I can tell the law has been about as much of a success as you can get from public policy. I know it's been a major help for my family over the years. So, thanks, Tom Harkin, and good luck enjoying your post-Senate years.

10 comments:

  1. Harkin's only 75? Wuss. There should be a party rule that Democratic incumbents may not retire before age 85 (or on sufficient showing of ill health) if it leaves an open seat in a midyear election during a Democratic administration. Do these people have no political sense at all??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Basically I agree, although I think Dem Congresman Bruce Braley has a very good shot to hold this Senate seat.

      Delete
  2. I'd be interested to hear you expound on why you don't care for Harkin. I've always admired him, and he's been a reliably progressive vote from a purple state for decades.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to guess that it's something to do with his long-stated opposition to the filibuster (which is one of his selling points, IMHO, but our gracious host may disagree). I could be completely wrong, of course, so take this FWIW.

      Delete
    2. No, definitely not the filibuster thing.

      There are very few politicians who I like or dislike based on the issue positions they hold. Well, I'm sure that's not 100% true, but it's a lot true.

      Delete
    3. Yeah. I mean, he's no Holy Joe Lieberman or Bob Kerrey, but I did find him sanctimonious.

      I'm not saying I actively disliked him. He was a serious legislator. But, yeah, it was a style thing.

      Maybe it's me; it could be that I'm just reading Iowa wrong.

      Delete
  3. I'll gladly grant that the idea of a President Harkin circa 1992 was probably a bit much.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Since the Skyway at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk still exists, I'm fairly sure the ADA had nothing to do with it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I still have a "Give 'em hell, Harkin" t-shirt in a drawer somewhere around here...

    ReplyDelete

Who links to my website?