ALONG THESE LINES: A Guide to Congressional Names
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By Nick Thomas
Rampant gridlock and political scandals are nothing new to Washington. However, the failures of the 112th U.S. Congress have probably elevated the level of disdain for our current elected officials to new heights.
Last summer, the outrageous behavior of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner left the nation cringing yet again. Despite repeated denials, Weiner eventually admitted to sending a series of inappropriate messages and images to women via social media, and resigned.
Given his name, it was difficult to discuss the incident without smirking.
Which got me thinking.
There were 541 members elected to the 112th Congress -- 435 in the House of Representatives plus six non-voting delegates, and 100 from the Senate. Were there other members in the current Congress who also had interesting names?
Turns out that quite a few do.
So here is a guide to congressional names that are all real and, unlike some of the individuals they belong to, unadulterated.
The most common last name is Johnson (7 of them), followed by Miller (5), Scott and Smith (4 each), and Young, Davis, Bishop, and Rogers (3 each). Some of the more unusual names include: Ruppersberger, Frelinghuysen, Luetkemeyer, and Sensenbrenner.
It would seem there are a few colorful individuals in Congress, too, including some Blacks and Browns, a couple of Greens, a Whitehouse, and a Schwartz.
Others are just plain animals including Reps. Foxx, Labrador, Quayle, Fincher, Wolf, Bass, Doggett, and Senator Coons.
The list also includes members who are Kind, Blunt, Grimm, Hurt, Long, and one who is Camp. There’s a Flake, a Harper, another is the Pitts, and one is quite Boren; but thankfully, there’s just a single Biggert in the group. And even on a good day, one senator from Idaho is always Crapo.
There is a Waters, Wasserman, Snowe, and Brooks, as well as a Boxer, a Gardner, and a Hunter. In addition to a West, a Moore, a Landry, we also have a Westmoreland.
Rep. Slaughter is known for her killer speeches, while Rep. Cleaver’s wit can quickly cut an opponent down to size. Senator Lugar has a reputation for being a straight shooter.
And despite touting a Pastor and several Bishops, no Christian is listed on the current Congressional roll.
The international crowd is well represented, too, with Senators Austria and Deutch, as well as Reps. Israel and Jordan (not surprisingly, on opposite sides of the aisle).
Some members might even claim presidential heritage since the group boasts a Carter, Adams, Buchanan, Wilson, Jackson, McKinley, and Johnson (there’s also Geoff Davis of Kentucky, for all you Confederates out there).
Many other members share well-known names, too. There are plenty of Lewis and Clarkes, several Mr. Rogers, a Daniel Webster, and some veterans from the world of entertainment including: Joe Walsh, Al Green, and Jerry Lewis. And let’s not forget a bunch of Bradys, too. Along these lines, Louisiana has Reps. Alexander and Fleming, while Missouri has Reps. Clay and Akin.
Then there’s Senators Bill and Ben Nelson, who are both Democrats; but if one should be absent from the floor when called to vote, it’s officially recorded as a half Nelson.
As we have seen in this Congress, partisan debates can flare up on the House floor. This is especially true when Alcee Hastings [D, Fla.] and Doc Hastings [R, Wash.] go head-to-head on issues. It inevitably leads to a Battle of Hastings.
However, Rep. Duncan prefers to keep out of the fray and nibble on donuts during fiery debates, while Rep. Goodlatte stays relaxed with a cup of hot coffee. As for Senator Boozman, they don’t ask what he’s sipping.
After considering the names of House and Senate members, there remain unanswered questions. For instance:
Could we really trust Ohio’s Rep. Fudge to chair the House Finance Committee? Wouldn’t Representatives Schilling and Pence be far more suitable to deal with money matters?
Just how supportive of the U.S. auto industry would Rep. Honda be?
Had he been around in the 80s, would Rep. Yoder have supported Reagan’s Star Wars initiative?
And, let’s face it, isn’t Senator Graham crackers?
It’s often said that voters have short memories when it comes to politics. Perhaps. But when November finally arrives, I suspect quite a few more “weiners” probably won’t make it to the 113th Congress.
Nick Thomas has written features for over 150 magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and Christian Science Monitor.