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March 20th, 2013

Telling names abound in the 113th Congress



By Nick Thomas

I never gave much thought to Congressional names until Anthony Weiner hit the headlines in 2011, as a disgraced member of the do-nothing 112th Congress.

Now we have the 113th Congress with its 535 voting members – 435 in the House of Representatives (plus six non-voting delegates), and 100 from the Senate. Are there any members in this batch of political gems who also have interesting names? It turns out that quite a few do.

So, along these lines, here is a guide to some current Congressional names which are all real and, unlike some of the individuals they belong to, unadulterated.

The most common last name is Johnson (6 of them), followed by Miller, Scott, and Smith (4 each), and Young, Davis, and Bishop (3 each). Some of the more unusual names include: Ruppersberger, Frelinghuysen, Luetkemeyer, and Sensenbrenner.

It would seem there are a few colorful individuals, too, including some Blacks and Browns, a couple of Greens, a Whitehouse, and a Schwartz. Others are just plain animals such as Reps. Foxx, Labrador, Bass, Fincher, Wolf, Duckworth, Horsford, Doggett, and Senator Coons.

The list also includes members who are Kind, Blunt, Grimm, Long, Hurt, and one who is Camp. There’s a Flake, a Harper, a Payne, and another is the Pitts. Thankfully, the only Biggert in the 112th Congress was defeated in the 2012 election. And while it may take some convincing, compared to the previous Congress, we can’t label any current member Boren. Still, even on a good day, one senator from Idaho is always Crapo.

In the 113th Congress, you can find Waters, Brooks, and Meadows, as well as a Cook, Boxer, Gardner, Hunter and a Barber. There are also three (jolly?) Rogers in the group. But despite touting a Pastor and several Bishops, no Christian is listed on the Congressional roll from any of the 50 states.

Some members could possibly claim presidential heritage since the group boasts a Carter, Kennedy, Buchanan, Wilson, McKinley, and Johnson. But, unfortunately for closet Confederates out there, Geoff Davis of Kentucky resigned last year.

With the retirement of Rep. Austria, the international crowd is represented by Daines, some Scotts, Senator Deutch, and Reps. Israel and Jordan (not surprisingly, on opposite sides of the aisle).

Many other members share well-known names, including a Lewis and Clarke, several Mr. Rogers, and a Daniel Webster. And let’s not forget a bunch of Bradys. Louisiana has Reps. Alexander and Fleming, and there’s also Democratic stars Warren and Beatty. Other namesake veterans from the world of entertainment that didn’t make it back to the 113th Congress including Joe Walsh and Jerry Lewis, but Al Green did. Bachmann and Turner returned, too, but they still lack Overdrive.

In the previous Congress, Democratic Senators Bill and Ben Nelson usually voted along party lines. But since Ben’s retirement, the Democrat votes are now reduced to a Half Nelson.

On the House floor, Rep. Slaughter is known for her killer speeches, while Rep. Cleaver’s wit can quickly cut an opponent down to size. And can Rep. Petri dish it out at times, too? He sure can bug his opponents. It’s just a pity Sen. Lugar was defeated in his Republican primary, as he had a reputation for being a straight shooter.

While we sometimes see ugly partisan debates in Congress, it’s still unprofessional for either side to tell colleagues to go to Heck. That’s because both Dennis Heck, the Washington Democrat, and Joe Heck, the Republican from Nevada, are fairly inexperienced members to seek out for advice.

Nevertheless, tempers invariably flare when Alcee Hastings [D, Fla.] and Doc Hastings [R, Wash.] go head-to-head, since this inevitably leads to a Battle of Hastings. It’s fascinating to watch, and even Rep. Ellmers is glued to her seat.

Most members, however, are able to avert conflict. Rep. Duncan prefers to ignore the fray and nibble on donuts, while Rep. Goodlatte relaxes with a cup of hot coffee. As for Senator Boozman, they don’t ask what he sips to keep calm. But it’s a good thing Deb Fischer is in the Senate and Tom Price is in the House; otherwise they might toy with each other.

Although rare, members sometimes put politics aside over social pot-luck meals. At such gatherings, there is bipartisan support welcoming Reps. Franks, Rice, and Salmon. But Rep. Clay rarely receives an invite, despite being a down to earth guy.

After considering the names of House and Senate members, some unanswered questions still remain:

Could Ohio’s Rep. Fudge be trusted to chair the House Finance Committee?

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?

What if Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Ed Markey sponsored a bill together? Would Joe Biden call it a bunch of Malarkey?

Shouldn’t Tim Kaine be the House Minority Whip?

And, let’s face it, isn’t Senator Graham crackers?

With its rampant gridlock and political scandals, the previous Congress was not a shining example of our democracy at work. But at least one weiner didn’t make it back to tarnish the 113th Congress.

Nick Thomas’ features and columns have appeared in more than 280 magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and Christian Science Monitor. He can be reached at his blog: http://getnickt.blogspot.com.


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