Political Dynasty? Or American Dream? (The choice is yours.)

This morning Glenn Reynolds linked the Blog Prof's discussion of the race between political titan John Dingell, Obamacare sponsor and lifetime advocate of socialized medicine, and Dr. Rob Steele, a cardiologist who has had enough of what's happening and decided to run for Congress.

OK, Dingell happens to be my congressman, and FWIW, I wrote to him about Obamacare. Even though he is a longtime Democrat (he's so old that his political life in Washington literally dates back to FDR), voters in his Detroit area district are fed up with him. Quite an accomplishment if you consider that the area is about as heavily Democrat as it's possible to get. Not only is Detroit itself 96.93% Democrat, but Ann Arbor is to the left of almost anyplace but Berkeley and Cuba (and these days I'm not so sure about the "political reliability" of Cuba). The polls must be a shocker for Dingell:

A new independent poll has the dean of the U.S. House, Rep. John Dingell trailing his Republican opponent, Rob Steele, by 4 percentage points.

The automated phone survey of 300 people in the 15th Congressional District showed Steele getting 43.8% of the vote. Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat and the longest-serving member of Congress, got 39.5%. About 11% were undecided. The gap is within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points. The poll was conducted Monday.

The Blog Prof has a great collection of YouTube videos, and for those who can stand to watch them, they show how hard Dingell has worked to earn the wrath of his voting constituents. Dingell did all of the following:
  • admitted on air that ObamaCare was all about 'controlling the people:'
  • called local radio talk show host a terrorist for opposing ObamaCare
  • was Booed At Town Hall - Said Tort Reform Not Included Because "Congress Can Only Handle So Much...")
  • compared townhall protesters to the KKK
  • Sheesh. I guess he thinks I'm part of the KKK too, as I'm one of those annoying Tea Partiers.

    The Blog Prof concludes that it's"time to put Dingell in the Smithsonian where he belongs," and urges a donation to Dr. Steele. I have met Dr. Steele, and I think he would be a great congressman. I donated to his campaign, and I would urge any readers who agree with me to donate too. To see Dingell and the Dingell Dynasty being defeated by a doctor who is fed up by Obamacare and decided to run for office is true poetic justice. If socialized medicine makes you sick (as it does me) I can think of no better medicine than electing Dr. Steele.

    The Blog Prof has assembled such a damning collection of videos that I would normally have just ended the post here.

    However, I thought I should add a few thoughts, especially in light of a political mailer I received the other day.

    Here it is:


    It's "Paid for by the John B. Dingell for Congress Committee."

    The grand patriarch of the ruling Dingell Dynasty seems to think that all he needs to do to get elected is run a snarky campaign against the Tea Party.

    On the other side of the leaflet is a pathetic attempt to smear Dr. Steele for being wealthy. The Dingell Dynasty has indicted him for his wickedness in owning a nice house and a vintage car collection. Sorry, but that won't fly with me. In fact, it backfired big time; hence this lengthened post.

    Steele is a man who worked for many years as a cardiologist in the private sector, and God knows how many lives he has saved. In this country, people who work hard and achieve success in a demanding profession like that are supposed to enjoy what is called the American Dream.

    Is there something wrong with that?

    Or is it more virtuous for great wealth to be obtained at the taxpayers' expense? Dingell is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, and the fortune he has amassed does not include that of his heiress wife:

    Last November, The Detroit News reported that Dingell is the wealthiest member of the Michigan delegation, with a net worth of about $2.6 million, not including the assets of his heiress wife Debbie, who has been quite successful as a Washington lobbyist (often on issues under her husband's jurisdiction).

    And as far as campaign cash is concerned, who is getting what from whom?

    According to Open Secrets, Dingell's campaign committee and leadership PAC had raised $1,155,698 as of July 14, with 75 percent of it coming from political action committees and 24 percent coming from individuals.

    Steele had raised $213,486, with none of it coming from PACs and 89 percent from individuals. (The remaining 11 percent came from Steele himself.)

    Normally, politicians' spouses are considered off-limits, but Debbie Dingell is anything but a normal spouse. To call them a power couple would be understatement; their names routinely appeared on lists like this of top Washington power couples. For years it was a very nice arrangement:

    John Dingell U.S. congressman (D-Mich.), and chair, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Debbie Dingell executive director for public affairs, General Motors

    He's the auto industry's staunchest ally in Congress, and has consistently sidelined efforts to raise fuePeconomy standards. She was a top lobbyist for GM, and is now a senior executive at the company. He's been in the House for 51 years--nearly as long as his wife, 52, has been alive.

    Naturally, there has long been talk of her being her husband's political heir and successor. But in order for that to happen, the Dingell Dynasty must go on. How nice it would be for a doctor who earned his wealth and was fed up with Obama-Dingellcare to put an end to the sort of arrangement that should have gone out of style in 1776.

    Regular readers know that I dislike criticizing people for being rich, and I hold no grudge against Debbie Dingell for her status as Fisher Body fortune heiress. However, fair is fair, and if the Dingells are going to attack a self-made man who earned the American Dream, I have a question for them as a taxpayer. How much money did Debbie Dingell get when she left GM last year and took a buyout? Was any of this buyout funded by the bailout? Because if any of it came from the taxpayers, I think the taxpayers have a right to know about it -- especially because it makes their smear against Dr. Steele worthy of recognition for setting a new height in political hypocrisy.

    You don't have to be a conservative, a Republican, or a Tea Partier to be fed up to the point of outrage by such stuff. Lots of Democrats around here are supporting Dr. Steele. Rule by political dynasty should have gone out of style long ago, and I agree that Dingell and his Dingell dynasty belong in the Smithsonian museum. Better yet, the ash heap of history. That way the taxpayers wouldn't have to pay for the space.

    UPDATE: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all.

    Comments welcome, agree or disagree.

    I'm still mulling over the idea that I should "keep quiet on stuff like this and let them finish their self-immolation." The problem with that is that in the election coverage, so far, the media is keeping awfully quiet about the Dingells' wealth.

    posted by Eric on 10.08.10 at 11:41 AM


    Your "political reliability" of Cuba bit had me LMAO. In a time long ago at a place far away I was a communist - that phrase resonates.

    M. Simon   ·  October 8, 2010 12:09 PM

    I received the same mailer. I found it funny, since it serves equally well as a rallying poster for Tea Party voters.

    Phil T. B.   ·  October 8, 2010 4:10 PM


    I had the same thought. Looks like an own goal to me.

    M. Simon   ·  October 8, 2010 6:33 PM

    I have revised and extended my remarks:


    M. Simon   ·  October 8, 2010 9:03 PM

    At one time, Mr. Dingell was my congressman. I was more interested at the time in coercing the extremely local benevolent dictatorship into giving me more animal crackers, or failing that, pureed carrots. Perhaps if I'd cared more about others at the time, I might have used the power of the Toddler Voice to save the residents of Detroit from cracked up city sidewalks, and a pureed city they have to endure courtesy of men like Mr. Dingell.

    But beware, if you choose to sacrifice his future by voting for the past, there might be a more far-sighted toddler in the city now, ready to get down!

    Tennwriter   ·  October 9, 2010 11:19 AM

    I used to be somewhat skeptical about term limiting US legislators. But the constant lying and whining of the current crop has really ticked me off. If you can term limit the President then you should term limit the rest of them.

    toad   ·  October 9, 2010 11:34 AM
    M. Simon   ·  October 9, 2010 11:44 AM

    You want to wake Dingell and his ilk up?

    3 weeks, just keep quiet on stuff like this and let them finish their self-immolation. Talk up the good guys by all means, but don't give good advice to the other side. They may be deperate aenough to listen.

    Anyway, it was just one poll and telephone polls like that are not trustworthy even within the claimed statistical bounds, because of serious sample bias.

    Marty   ·  October 9, 2010 12:12 PM

    Marty, I see your point, and I have thought about your comment, but I think this stuff is so bad that it ought to be shouted about, and used as a campaign issue. It is outrageous -- so outrageous that I think it is a mistake to say nothing, and let them try for a last minute smear. Dingell has the money to do just that. In politics when you have an opening like this, I think the best defense is a good offense.

    Besides, the voters are smart enough to see that by attacking Steele for his money, Dingell was really asking for it.

    Eric Scheie   ·  October 9, 2010 10:35 PM

    I hadn't realized that flyer (poster?) was supposed to be against the Tea Party, as M. Simon and Phil note, it could be pro-Tea Party.

    It's funny how two people can look at the same thing, say the same thing and mean exactly the opposite thing.

    Veeshir   ·  October 10, 2010 8:59 AM

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