This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 7, 2014:
The encomiums poured in following the announcement by John Dingell (D-Mich.) last week that he wouldn’t be seeking a 30th term in the House. Tweeted Gary Peters (D-Mich.): “Today we honor the service and legacy of Michigan’s greatest Congressman. His accomplishments will never be forgotten.” Such praise would reasonably be expected from a hard-left progressive like Peters who is running to replace Michigan’s equally hard-left Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who is retiring.
But praise from others who should know better was surprising. Republican House member Lee Terry from Nebraska tweeted: “His leadership and skills will be missed in E & C [the House Energy and Commerce Committee where Dingell served for years].” Most surprising of all was this sweet sendoff by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.): “Despite our differences, Congressman Dingell has always been kind and gracious – and I will miss our elevator rides. Congrats on retirement.”
Really. When count is made of the damage done to the republic by Dingell and his father, John D. Dingell, Sr., dating all the way back to 1933, only the hardiest of die-hard socialists could express such sentiments. Starting in 1933, John Dingell, Sr., a “stalwart New Dealer” (according to author John T. Flynn) began promoting socialized medicine. Dingell, Sr. had no interest in Constitutional limitations, even writing a letter to President Roosevelt on August 18, 1941, months before the so-called surprise attack took place at Pearl Harbor, suggesting that the president round up and jail 10,000 Hawaiian Japanese Americans and hold them as hostages to ensure the Japanese government’s “good behavior.” Following the attack, Dingell, Sr. was among the very first to launch a campaign to impugn the integrity of Admiral Kimmel and General Short for their negligence and dereliction of duty at Pearl, long before the real back story behind the attack became well known.
When Dingle, Sr. developed tuberculosis and moved to Colorado Springs for treatment, he fathered John, Jr. Following senior’s death in 1955, junior won a special election in Michigan (where they had moved) to complete his father’s term. The very first thing junior did was to present a bill to create national health insurance. At the start of every legislative year, junior offered a bill for national health insurance – every year until it was finally passed in 2010. At one point, Dingell rejoiced over the impact he and his father had in pushing the country into socialism:
It’s hard to believe that there was once no Social Security or Medicare. The Dingell family helped change that.
My father worked on Social Security and for national health insurance, and I sat in the chair and presided over the House as Medicare passed [in 1965].
I went with Lyndon Johnson for the signing of Medicare at the Harry S. Truman Library, and I have successfully fought efforts to privative Social Security and Medicare.
But Obamacare is far from the only legislation that Dingell helped father. There is the Wilderness Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. He even helped craft the original Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules, despite the fact that he represented the people of Detroit and the automakers there who had, over the years, sent more than $600,000 to help fund his reelection campaigns.
On international matters, Dingell was consistent as well. When asked in an interview with Grist in 2006 about global warming and the need for federal government interventions to clean up the air, he responded:
Is that going to solve the problem? China has an exemption from the Kyoto agreement because it’s classified as a developing country. The Indians are, too. In a meeting about the Kyoto agreement, I asked the Chinese, “How long are you going to be a developing country, before we can expect you to participate in cleaning up?” They looked me in the eye and said, “Dingell, we’re always going to be developing. We aren’t ever going to be a stable, staid, complete society. So we’re never going to be covered by it. We’re just going to go ahead and burn all the damn coal, emit all the carbon dioxide that we want to emit.” And they will very shortly be the biggest emitter in the world….
Now you ask, if we were to terminate all of the burning of coal and all of the production of CO2 in this country, and China and India and Europe and everybody else in the developing world keeps going, I don’t think you’re going to be looking for much in the way of a resolution. This is an international problem.
When it served his purposes, Dingell used his position as chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee to harass Republican appointees to the EPA and the FDA, while ignoring blatant overreach by those departments when they were staffed by Democrat appointees.
At one point, his committee was so powerful that four out of every ten bills presented during his reign from 1981 to 1995 had to pass through his committee. His hubris was unlimited. When asked where his committee’s jurisdiction ended, he merely pointed to a photo of Earth taken from space that he had mounted on the wall behind his desk. Even after Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) took over as chairman of his committee, Dingell continued to work with him to promote and eventually pass ObamaCare.
Dingell, to his credit, could never get his head around the necessity, promoted by progressives, to disarm the American people. For a number of years he sat on the board of the National Rifle Association (NRA), which routinely gave him its A+ rating for his stand on the Second Amendment.
When speaking with the Detroit News about his plan not to seek another term, he said that age and acrimony were the reasons why:
I’m not going to be carried out feet first. I don’t want people to say I stayed too long….
It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness both in Congress and in the streets.
It’s not hard to see why. People don’t like to be pushed around by the likes of progressives like Dingell and son who ignore the Constitution while using laws as a hammer to force people to comply with illegal and unconstitutional edicts. As Fredric Bastiat wrote in The Law more than 150 years ago, when the law is used as a bludgeon, people get angry. When used as such a tool,
the law destroys … the rights of the person by way of slavery, liberty by way of oppression [and] property by way of plunder.
As the freedom movement has gained strength, the pushback by an increasing number of now constitutionally informed citizens is creating the “acrimony and bitterness” that Dingell is using as an excuse to get out of Dodge.
In this case, does that bode well for a replacement of Dingell, and the ending of the socialist Dingell dynasty? There’s another Dingell in the works, one Mrs. Deborah Dingell, John Dingell’s second wife – 28 years his junior – who may just jump into the opening created by her husband’s departure. She has worked for, and represented, General Motors for years and her last name carries a lot of clout. If she decides to run, the dynasty just might continue for another long and desperate time. When asked about the possibilities that his wife might run for his seat, Dingell responded:
You’ll have to talk to the lovely Deborah. She is the one who is going to make that decision. She has not told me what she’s planning on doing.
With Deborah perhaps salivating for the chance to replace her husband, to keep the name, the brand, and the legend alive, along with the progressive agenda, it’s helpful to remember that it will take more than a change from a suit to a pantsuit to make any fundamental change in Michigan’s 12th district. It will take a change in understanding as to just how much damage the Dingell dynasty has already inflicted on the republic, and what is needed to begin the restoration process.
The Washington Post: Longest-serving Rep. John Dingell to retire