Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The death of Dan Rostenkowski and bipartisanship

Dan Rostenkowski will be buried today from Chicago's St. Stanislau Kostka Church.

I'm quite sure Mr. Rostenkowski's passing didn't get all the publicity nationwide that it received in Chicago -- but Rostenkowski was, in his day, a national figure. A long-time member of Congress, Rostenkowski rose to become Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee. (More importantly, from a Chicagoan's point of view, he was Committeeman of the 32nd Ward for many, many years.)

While in office, Rostenkowski converted postage funds to personal use, had ghost payrollers doing personal errands for him and his family, and some other stuff besides that led to his being indicted by the Feds. After the indictment was handed down, Rostenkowski lost his 1994 reelection bid -- to a Republican! Rosty thereafter copped a plea and did 17 months of Federal time.

In his day, though, Rostenkowski was considered a person who could operate above partisan party politics. His signature accomplishment was the 1986 overhaul of the Federal tax system, something that could only have been done in cooperation with the Reagan administration.

This got me thinking about bipartisanship -- what it has been, and how it has been redefined.

In those far-off days of the 1980s, bipartisanship was reaching across the aisle to see what could be agreed upon and creating an agenda accordingly. Now, though, bipartisanship is where the party with the votes tells the other party what it's going to do -- and asks the minority party whether it will meekly acquiesce or whether it will be 'obstructionist.'

I can't imagine why bipartisanship no longer seems to work in Washington....

P.S. -- The Republican who beat Rostenkowski in 1994 was Michael Patrick Flanagan. And if ever a person became a marked man as a result, it was Flanagan. If Flanagan had managed to get reelected, he might still be in Congress -- a constant source of embarrassment and shame to our usually solid one-party system here in Chicago.

Thus it was in 1996 that all the stops were pulled out to deny Flanagan a second term. And who did the Democrats rely upon to restore that seat to the fold?

Rod Blagojevich.

Yes, that's worked out well, hasn't it?


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i remember him well! mr. postage stamp i called him. and i didn't know about flanagan losing to blagojevich! too funny. only in chicago!

smiles, bee

Sarge Charlie said...

how long will it stay the same in Chi Town, down and dirty.