Throwback Thursday: We Need More Retirements From Congress
Credit: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images
December 10, 2020

It's very sad about Dianne Feinstein. The New Yorker has published Jane Mayer's "Dianne Feinstein’s Missteps Raise a Painful Age Question Among Senate Democrats."

I'm filing this under "Throwback Thursday" because I wrote about it TEN years ago:

[written in 2010] I certainly understand the collective whine coming from us progressives over the "loss" of Senators Dodd and Dorgen. But look, both of them have birthdays in May: Dodd will be 66 and Dorgan 68. When are these guys supposed to retire?

We've got the oldest US Senate in the history of forever. Forty-eight US Senators are over sixty-five, and twenty-seven of those are over seventy. [The current number shows 31 Senators over 70.]

I don't want anyone to think I'm being ageist here, though I actually think it's an ageist thing on the part of boomers to keep these (pardon the expression) fossils in office. One always feels younger if the leadership of your country is older than you. A large part of the susceptibility of seniors to distrust Obama has to do with him being in his forties, I'm sure.

And why would a body of (mostly) men who continue to get Federal Employee health insurance see the urgency of a Medicare buy-in for people under sixty five? Hell, Senator Grassley (running for re-election and he'll be 78 in September) told a constituent flat-out last June that if he wanted a good deal on health insurance he should become an employee of the federal government. No, really:

I think we need more members of Congress to retire.

Sure, like a lot of progressives I would miss Bernie Sanders (68) and Jay Rockefeller (72), and Barbara Boxer (69). But I certainly don't think there aren't progressive candidates available to run and serve in their place.

The Democrats, in particular, should be ashamed for needing to wheel Robert Byrd (ninety-effing-two) into the chamber late Christmas Eve for a sixtieth vote. If Joe Lieberman (67) can fake-filibuster without actually lifting a finger or pulling out a cot, Byrd should be able to vote "aye" from home.

The argument for incumbency benefits only the two political parties and the advertising reps and consultants who make running for office a million-dollar business. Screw them and their self-preservation. As Chris Dodd said yesterday, "None of us is irreplaceable. None of us are indispensable. Those who think otherwise, are dangerous."

The problem has become worse in ten years. Those who are still in Congress since I wrote that post in 2010 are, of course, ten years older. There are 31 senators over age 70 right now. A 2017 report indicated a pharmacy delivers Alzheimer's meds to Members, plural, of Congress.

It's painful to take away positions from people who are losing cognizant abilities. Many of us have been through the "take away dad's car keys" moments. But it happens, and it's time for Congressional staff and leadership to make that difficult call as an employer.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.