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December 18, 2012 12:40 PM Daniel Inouye

By Jonathan Bernstein

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.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

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Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.
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