Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Daniel Inouye

Senator Daniel Inouye, an American hero, RIP.

I don't have much to say about Inouye as a Senator that others haven't said. Here's the WaPo obituary. Truly, a great American.

Inouye first served in the 88th Senate, which of course passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He served with Carl Hayden, who had represented Arizona in Congress since it became a state in 1912, and had been in the Senate since 1927; Hayden made it to 1972, so that means with Inouye gone no current Senator served with him. Hayden? He overlaps with Francis Warren, who was an original Senator from Wyoming in 1890, although he did skip two years, leaving the Senate in 1893 and returning in 1895.

Want more? It only gets us back 14 years, but Warren served with Henry Teller, an original Senator from Colorado, who also skipped two years at one point. The next one isn't quite there, but it gets close. Teller served with William Windom. Windom was in the Senate from 1870 to 1883, although there were two brief lapses, giving him plenty of overlap with Teller. Before the Senate, Windom was in the House from 1859 to 1869. He wasn't quite an original Member of the House from Minnesota, but missed it by only one year. Or, we can use Phineas Hitchcock, who was a territorial representative from Nebraska and then, after a four year gap, a Senator beginning in 1871. As near as I can tell, the chain pretty much ends there. Or course, another way to look at it is that Inouye and Hayden cover a full 100 years in their overlapping Congressional careers.

I hope you won't mind if part of my response is personal. Inouye is the last Senator who was there before I was born; he's succeeded as President Pro Tempore by Pat Leahy, who was a Watergate baby (that is, first elected in 1974). It's not just that...I worked over on the Senate side from summer 1987 through summer 1989. From the Senate when I began that job, hardly anyone will remain in the 113th Senate next month: I count 13, only 12 if Kerry is gone. Which I guess makes me...er...not young.

Eric Ostermeier produced a list of all the Senators Inouye served with; there are 412 of them. Only one president! At least, so far. But if you look through the list, you're going to find dozens who ran, and even more who sorta, kinda ran, and then an even longer list if you include those who were vice-presidential nominees or considered for it. Including, apparently, Inouye, in 1968.

Inouye was on the Senate Watergate Committee, so maybe I'll be blogging about him this summer. He'll be very much missed in the Senate, and not soon forgotten.


  1. He also, as I understand it, played a big part in transforming Hawaii from a Republican bastion to a Democratic one--I'd love to read more about that story.

  2. He was the first Senator not of my state who I actually knew who they were. My aunt worked at Fish and Game securing land for refuge areas, and my father worked for native tribes; he was one of the few Senators to stand up for their work.

  3. If you aren't looking for original Senators/Reps from states, based on my database, the Senate chain is really short:

    Inouye served with Hayden in the 88th, who served with Warren in the 70th, who served with John Sherman in the 51st, who served with James Pearce in the 37th, who served with William Rufus King in the 28th, who served with John Gaillard in the 16th, who served with James Hillhouse in the 9th, who served with John Langdon in the 5th, who was a Senator in the 1st Congress.

    Nine men.

    If you expand it to all congressional service, rather than just Senate service, the chain is 7:

    Dingell served in the 84th with Hayden, who served with William Pierce Frye in the 62nd, who served with Charles Sumner in the 42nd, who served with William Rufus King in the 32nd, who served with Andrew Gregg in the 12th, who was a Member of the 2nd Congress, and served with a pile of people who were in the 1st Congress.

  4. You are mistaken, Sen. Carl Hayden of Arizona did not serve until 1972, he retired in 1968 and was replaced by Barry Goldwater. Goldwater gave up his Senate seat when he ran for President in 1964, then took Hayden's Senate seat in 1968 and held it until he retired in 1986 and was replaced by John McCain.

  5. I know, I know, de mortuis nil nisi bunkum, but "an American hero"? Jeez.

    Let's look through what a friendly obit says about him.

    "[He] used his status as one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington and the second-longest-serving senator in history to send billions of dollars to his home islands."

    "Sen. Inouye ensured that Hawaii, once seen by most Americans as a distant agricultural outpost, received a steady flow of dollars"

    "Proudly describing himself as “the No. 1 earmarks guy in the U.S. Congress,” he was ... one of the last unapologetic purveyors of political pork."

    And so on. With virtues like this, who needs vices.

    1. He won the Medal of Honor. Doesn't that qualify him?

  6. An American hero if only for his Medal of Honor. But for me he was a hero in both Watergate and Iran Contra.

  7. Was Inouye the last WWII vet active in American politics?

    1. No, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is a WW II vet, though not a combat veteran. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI 12) and Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX 4) are both combat veterans of WW II. Dingell and Hall were both re-elected last month, and Lautenberg's term does not end until January 2015. So, barring the death of one of these three men over the next 2 years, there will be 3 World War II vets in Congress for another 2 years.


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