Heard on the Hill: Saying Goodbye to Yesterday
Retiring Senators have been giving farewell speeches on the chamber floor, waxing nostalgic on their time in the most exclusive club.
They’ve also shared a few interesting tidbits. Here are some of HOH’s favorites:
Sen. Bob Bennett: The Utah Republican said the Senate gets a bad rap for being corrupt, arguing it’s “much better” than it used to be.
Bennett recalled once running into a friend in the Senate hallways who frantically told him that he had just asked another Senator to speak to a school group that he was taking on a tour.
“And he did,” Bennett recalled the friend telling him, “and he [was] drunk.”
No word on who it was.
Bennett also said that while there’s much talk about money in politics, things used to be worse. There used to be safes in every Senator’s office, for example, to “hold the cash that would be … handed to the Senator.”
When the Dirksen Senate Office Building was remodeled, Bennett had his safe removed. Others followed suit. “If I leave no legacy other than this, it will be that the safes are all coming out,” Bennett said.
Sen. Byron Dorgan: The North Dakota Democrat reflected on a chance meeting 30 years ago on a Cannon House Office Building elevator.
“There was a woman on that elevator, and between the ground floor and the fourth floor, I got her name,” Dorgan said. “This year, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. My life has been so enriched by my wife, Kim.”
Sen. Kit Bond: The Missouri Republican said that when he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came to office, they sat in the back of the chamber in what the Kentucky Republican dubbed the “Not Quite Ready for Prime Time Club.”
“While I never made it to prime time — except of course my appearance one night on Jon Stewart as a less-than-best-selling author — you certainly have arrived,” Bond joked to McConnell.
Sen. Jim Bunning: The Kentucky Republican acknowledged his go-it-alone reputation.
“I have been booed by 60,000 fans in Yankee Stadium, standing alone on the mound, so I have never cared if I stood alone in the Congress, as long as I stood by my beliefs,” the retired major league pitcher said. “I have also thought that being able to throw a curveball never was a bad skill for a politician to have.”