John Dingell (D-MI), longtime Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has done some good things in his time, but overall he’s been a net minus. When Henry Waxman (D-CA) toppled him from his perch today my feeling was an uncharitable, Good Riddance. The vote in the Democratic Party caucus was close but not very close: 137 – 122. Dingell has not been representing the people of his District as much as he has been representing the US Automakers. He he got the sobriquet Dirty Air Dingell the old fashioned way: he earned it:
The Energy and Commerce panel is one of the most important House committees, with sweeping jurisdiction over energy, the environment, consumer protection, telecommunications and health care programs such as Medicaid and the popular State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Dingell has been the top Democrat on the panel for 28 years and is an old-school supporter of Detroit’s carmakers and other big industries such as electric utilities. His bitter battles with Waxman over clean air issues date to the Reagan administration and were recently revived as Waxman complained that the committee has been too slow to address global warming.
Waxman, 69, has a lengthy congressional resume of aggressive investigations and legislative action.
Dingell’s reputation for putting Detroit’s auto interests above all else didn’t help his campaign to keep his job — especially as automakers seeking a bailout have been taking a public relations pounding on Capitol Hill. (AP via Yahoo)
Dingell was not just old (82). He was a dinosaur. A good friend whose opinion I value served on his staff some decades ago and respected him, but I was always turned off by his autocratic style and slavish service to automakers and utilities. Waxman is tough, persistent and no nonsense. He’s out ahead of many Bush dog Democrats, so it remains to be seen how effective he will be in getting done what desperately needs to be done.
In the meantime I’m glad to see Dingell relegated to the slag heap. His political capital went bankrupt along with his paymasters. I still say, Good Riddance.