Politics

The Dingell-est Things John Dingell Said in His #AMA

Longest-serving member of Congress pulls no punches

Former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., hosted a Reddit AMA session Thursday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. John Dingell, the longest-ever serving member of Congress, is known for his frankness and wit.

The former Michigan lawmaker lived up to that reputation in a refreshingly honest Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session Thursday, dishing on President Donald Trump, the inanity of term limits, and how the Senate and Electoral College are inherently undemocratic institutions.

Here are the top five Dingelliest moments from the 92-year-old’s question-and-answer session.

1. Term limits

As someone who served nearly 30 terms in the House, it's no surprise Dingell is not a proponent of subjecting lawmakers to limits on their service.

“Truth is, term limits are the lazy voter’s way out,” he wrote in response to a question about whether longtime members of Congress are actually equipped to handle future problems for younger generations.

“I believe in term limits; they’re called elections,” Dingell responded. “If you don’t like your elected official, you can back someone else and work to get them elected, hoping they will serve you better both philosophically and politically.”

“The people who benefit most from term limits are lobbyists,” the Michigan Democrat added. “As I note in [his book “The Dean: The Best Seat in the House,” which dropped Tuesday], talk to me about term limits when they exist for lobbyists.”

2. PB&... M?

Dingell has always been unabashedly himself. That apparently extends to his dietary preferences.

“Is it true that one of your most common meals was a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich?” asked Redditor likeafox. “I’ve heard that was something you learned to eat during the depression and developed a fondness for.”

Dingell confirmed that the rumor: He still chows down on PB&Ms.

“It’s true,” he wrote, suggesting that others should follow suit. “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.”

3. Dingell dishes on Trump

Dingell has long given up on the hope that Democrats can work with Trump, a president he has described as both incompetent and contemptible.

During the AMA session, he blamed Trump’s 2016 victory in part on Democrats who “didn’t pay attention” to the stakes of the election.

He also repeated a line he tweeted when Trump was elected to describe the president’s qualifications as he sees them.

“He couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were printed on the heel,” Dingell said.

The former congressman could not help himself from roasting the president when presented with a hypothetical.

"Would you rather fight 99 duck-sized Donald Trumps, or 1 Donald Trump-sized duck? one user asked.

“Doesn’t make a difference,” Dingell said. “They’re all fowl.”

Eventually, one user asked Dingell point blank: “Do you believe Trump is a racist or bigot? What are the implications of a political party electing a man like this as their leader.”

“1. Yes,” Dingell responded. “2. The Republican Party is now dead; it’s the Trump Party.”

4. Dissolving the Senate

Dingell made waves this past week for advocating in an op-ed for The Atlantic for the dissolution of the Senate and Electoral College.

The institutions do not represent the will of the majority of the U.S. population, he wrote.

Dingell has railed against Congress’ upper chamber in other forums, including in his new book, the catalyst for his recent publicity tour, including the AMA.

On Thursday he boiled down his argument against the Senate thusly:

“It’s a travesty that California has 40 million people and as many US Senators as Wyoming, with its 575,000 people. My former House district has as more people in it as several states do, yet we only shared two Senators,” Dingell wrote.

And on his opposition to the Electoral College:

“Twice in the last eighteen years, the popular vote winner has become President,” he wrote. “That is undemocratic.”

5. The GOP and partisan bickering

Earlier in the AMA session, Dingell lamented the shrill partisan bickering that has gripped Washington and prevented lawmakers from putting their heads together to pass legislation.

That was “one of the things that propelled me into leaving the Congress,” Dingell wrote. “We now find ourselves in an uncivil war with one another. The absence of civility has poisoned the process.”

Yet roughly 20 minutes later, the former congressman suggested — sarcastically or not — that Republicans were destined for eternal damnation.

One user asked him why Republicans “don’t care” about global warming. 

“Because they’re preparing for the hot place in hell that awaits many of them?” he responded.

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