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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

A thought regarding the 2010 elections (House edition).

Just on the off chance that somebody out there is still not on-board with the notion of taking back the House, please contemplate the table below:

Committee Chair Born Age Elected
Ways & Means Charles Rangel 1930 79 1970
Appropriations David Obey 1938 70 1969
Energy & Commerce Henry Waxman 1939 69 1975
Rules Louise Slaughter 1929 79 1987
Financial Services Barney Frank 1940 69 1981
Judiciary John Conyers 1929 80 1965

Those are, generally speaking, the six most powerful committees in the House of Representatives – and if you’ll note carefully, you’ll see that the chairs of them that aren’t pushing seventy are the ones who are pushing eighty* (the average age of Representatives in the 111th Congress is 57).  You’ll also note that the least amount of time-in-Congress for any of them is twenty-eight years; in fact, all but two of them have been in Congress for longer than I’ve been alive, and I’ll be forty next year.  This is not really unexpected (except, of course, by people silly enough to believe that Democratic control of Congress meant a “fresh start,” or some other nonsense): seniority counts for a lot in determining committee assignments.  So what?

‘So what’ is that each one of these Members of Congress personally remember the shock and horror of 1995, when the Republicans took control of the House for the first time since the 1950s.  Most of them had been in office for at least two decades by then (one for three), and all of them must have been accustomed to the notion that Democratic control of Congress was simply one of those things that existed.  To have it suddenly go away - while leaving them secure in their own seats – was probably a very traumatic experience.  But they kept on, moved up the internal party seniority ladder; and now that the Democrats are in control again, they are in positions of authority, with the power to bind and to loose.  Getting there was grueling, though, and they are old.  They have the prize that they seek, but they are old.

What do you think will happen if we take that prize away from them?

Again?

I don’t know either – but I know some people who are as eager to find out as I am.  Not that they can do it on their own.

Moe Lane

*No, it’s not actually important for the purposes of discussion how old their replacements would be on the GOP side: I haven’t even bothered to look it up.  Focus.

Crossposted to Moe Lane.

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