Congress: A Ship of Fools with Exceptions

Indiana’s Andy Jacobs was a rare honorable congressman.

John Fund
National Review

Almost all of the coverage of former secretary of state Bob Gates’s memoir focuses on his criticism of Presidents Obama and Bush. But he saved his most searing criticism for what he considered a preening, blinkered Congress.

“Congress is best viewed from a distance — the farther the better — because up close, it is truly ugly. I saw most of Congress as uncivil, incompetent at fulfilling their basic constitutional responsibilities (such as timely appropriations), micromanagerial, parochial, hypocritical, egotistical, thin-skinned and prone to put self (and re-election) before country,” Gates wrote. And that was just his warm-up lede paragraph.

Gates roasts members such as Senate majority leader Harry Reid for declaring the Iraq War “a failure” just as the surge was showing results and then demanding special-interest add-ons to the defense budget. “Any defense facility or contract in their district or state, no matter how superfluous or wasteful, was sacrosanct,” Gates writes. “I was constantly amazed and infuriated at the hypocrisy of those who most stridently attacked the Defense Department as inefficient and wasteful but fought tooth and nail to prevent any reduction in defense activities in their home state or district.”

In other words, there are reasons that Congress’s approval rating hovers around 10 percent. But it’s at times like these that it’s important to note that many members of Congress resist the temptations of power that Gates zings them for. It’s vital we recognize real examples of selfless public service and integrity.

That’s why we should truly mourn the loss of Andy Jacobs Jr., a Democratic House member who represented Indianapolis for 30 years before retiring in 1997. Would that the Democratic party still had more clear-eyed, independent liberals like him.

He died late last month at age 81, and his memorial service in the rotunda of the state capitol was held just a few days ago. It is a measure of the bipartisan respect Jacobs engendered that he was mourned by Democrats along with such Republicans as Governor Mike Pence, his predecessor Mitch Daniels, and former Indianapolis mayor Bill Hudnut…

…“I don’t think Andy thought passing new laws was his principal role in Congress,” Louis Mahern, a former Jacobs staff member, told the Indianapolis Star. That attitude irritated congressional leaders. They didn’t appreciate Jacobs’s free-spirited ways and unsuccessfully tried to block him from holding a subcommittee chairmanship on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. But his message stayed the same. “Andy Jacobs tried to tell his party for half a century, there’s nothing progressive about saddling future Americans with debt, because today’s officeholders greedily consume campaign contributions while ignoring the quid pro quo that accompanies them,” Carl Cannon, a columnist with Real Clear Politicswrote


The entire article is at National Review.


H/T Richard C. Young



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