How can we expect the federal government to continue to function at its usual peak efficiency without the awesome 52 years of experience and institutional knowledge supplied by Michigan Congressman John Conyers?
Sure, the nation survived back when George Washington stepped down after two terms as president; Congress carried on after the departures Daniel Webster and Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun.
Yet, consider the complexity of modern governance, and the great expertise and finely crafted statesmanship exhibited by someone like Rep. Conyers. Are we being sent up the proverbial Detroit River sans oar?
Give the man his due; who do you think made the great city of Detroit what it is today?
If only someone could step forward at this delicate historical moment with the same skill-set as the iconic Conyers! Well, in announcing his resignation last week in the wake a series of allegations of sexual misconduct — and declaring that his “legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now” — the congressman endorsed his eldest son, John Conyers III, as his replacement.
But what, you dare ask, are his qualifications?
For starters, there’s the divine right of kings. Or, more precisely, the idea of maintaining rule by means of a royal-esque family bloodline. A congressional district should be handed down to the oldest male heir, right? Or the wife, perhaps, like with the Dingell seat in Michigan’s 12th congressional district — held by a Dingell (father, son, wife) for the last 85 years . . . and counting.
The Conyers congressional seat is certainly not likely going to Conyers’ ex-wife, Monica, the mother of son, John Conyers III. Monica Conyers served on the Detroit City Council . . . up until she was prosecuted and convicted of accepting bribes and then she served a 27-month term in federal prison.
She is always serving, though. After leaving prison, she and the congressman divorced.
Already, the Conyers heir apparent has demonstrated an uncanny knack for following the esteemed lead of his father, the Honorable John J. Conyers. Back in 2010, the III tweeted, “My dad’s a f*cking player and reckless as hell! He just got at this doods wife super low-key.”
Earlier this year, the young Conyers was arrested, but not prosecuted on a domestic abuse charge. He remains subject to a restraining order from that altercation.
Clearly, this new Conyers “dood” seems more than able to carry on in the congressional tradition to which we have all grown accustomed.
But American government still faces a congressional brain drain; Conyers’ departure after accusations of sexual harassment is anything but unique.
Following Conyers’ resignation last week, Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) also announced his impending exit . . . in the coming weeks . . . details to be named later. Some in the media are now questioning whether Franken is delaying his departure date from Washington in hopes of finding a lifeline to stay.
In his farewell address of sorts, Franken took to the Senate floor bemoaning that his relative silence for weeks — “being respectful of the broader conversation” about listening to women — allowed a “false impression” to be created that he was “admitting to doing things.” He went on to claim that, “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true, others I remember very differently.”
But remembering “differently” falls far short of a denial.
“I am proud that during my time in the Senate,” the junior senator from Minnesota stoically stated, “I have used my power to be a champion for women.” Franken now joins the likes of other staunchly pro-feminist politicians such as Bill Clinton, Bob Packwood, and Anthony Weiner.
Franken’s resignation was just making news when another resignation hit Capitol Hill. Surprisingly, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) revealed he was leaving Congress even before allegations against him had been made public. Talk about getting ahead of the news cycle!
Apparently, Franks’ frank discussion with female staffers about having his baby – as a surrogate — didn’t go as well as he had hoped.
Also imperiled? The talents of an unknown number of other eminent gropers and experienced molesters, a massive treasury of firsthand knowledge of how government really works. This reckoning over sexual harassment and abuse is almost as frightening to Washington’s incumbents as term limits.
But, to would-be dynasts like John Conyers, it is not just the idea of term limits that rubs against the grain of their ambition. The very idea of terms must rankle.