The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 

Nepotism in Congress - update


Poor old Tom DeLay. He's not the first member to put a wife or child on the payroll, you'll be amazed to learn.

First, there was Adam Clayton Powell, who managed it by a sort of reverse takeover: he looked at the payroll, and picked himself a wife! (She got a promotion PDQ, though - April 4.)

Now, I see (from this) that Thomas Gore, senator from Oklahoma [1],
In 1913...using his prerogative as Chairman of the [Agriculture] Committee, hired his daughter Dixie Gore as the Committee's first female clerk. Senator Gore, who had become blind as a child, was often seen heading to the Committee room being guided by his grandson Gore Vidal.

Gore's reason for nepotism, of course, is copper-bottomed.

I come to Gore via the filibuster rumble: re-reading Fisk and Chemerinsky (PDF), I reach (p16a) the tale of Robert LaFollette's 1908 filibuster against the Aldrich-Vreeland Bill [2], in which he was joined by Gore, amongst others.

This filibuster is notable on two counts: first, that an attempt was made to murder LaFollette by dosing with ptomaine the eggnog with which he was sustaining himself; and, second, that the filibuster failed when Gore yielded to floor to a fellow-filibuster who had just left the floor for a bathroom break!

  1. In that state's first delegation; served two terms (or just a tad more), failed to be renominated (1920); elected in 1930; failed to be renominated (1936). Freaky.

  2. Voteview supplies some 5Ws: Aldrich's orginal bill was S 3023, passed on March 27 1908. It ended up as HR 21871, the conference report on which was passed on May 30 1908. Six roll call votes were forced in the Senate in dealing with HR 21871.

MORE

Whoda thunkit. Chemerinsky and Fisk are husband and wife! (No implication of nepotism whatsoever there, needless to say.)


STILL MORE

A bio of Theodore Roosevelt's vice president, Charles Fairbanks, supplies valuable particulars about the Aldrich-Vreeland filibuster. LaFollette kicked off on May 29. In his team were Gore and William Stone of Missouri.

On the Gore incident, it says this (emphasis mine):
Gore was to speak until 4:30 p.m., when Stone would return. At the appointed time, Gore, who was blind, heard that Stone had returned, but when Gore yielded the floor, Stone, either by mistake or through chicanery, had stepped outside the chamber for a moment. Vice President Fairbanks, alert to his opportunity, immediately recognized Nelson Aldrich, who moved that the vote be taken on his bill. Fairbanks, ignoring other speakers shouting for recognition, directed the clerk to call the yeas and nays, and Aldrich, first on the roll, answered in the affirmative. Under Senate rules, once a vote began, it could not be stopped for further debate. After more than twenty-eight hours, the filibuster was broken.

And there I was thinking it was just a call of nature! Much more likely, in retrospect, a shenanigan of the Aldrich camp. (I'm sure several forests have been felled to cover the incident, but, for online, that's deep research!)

Nelson Aldrich, a sort of Lord Salisbury of American legislating: last of a line. Après moi, le déluge - after the Seventeenth Amendment [1] let the Great Unwashed choose their senators, that is.

  1. Why are the ordinal numbers in the names of amendments to the US Constitution always, or generally, spelt in full, and not expressed as numerals? Also freaky.

    The famous Private Eye cover showing a photo (with cartoon bubbles added) of General de Gaulle next to George Brown, an Old Labour man (and old soak) who was briefly Foreign Secretary under Harold Wilson (circa 1967):

    De Gaulle: Après moi, le déluge.
    Brown: Moi, un autre déluge.

    The allusion.



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