Don’t count out Inouye

Many assume that Hawai‘i Sen. Daniel Inouye’s influence will wane in Washington and at home if Republicans follow through on their threat to block earmarks, or porkbarrel spending.

That’s not necessarily so. Lawmakers will find creative ways to direct federal spending to pet projects in their home states whether it’s called earmarking or not. As Senate Appropriations chairman, Inouye will be in the middle of the deal-making.

But more than that, Inouye, who was sworn in yesterday for a ninth term and could become the longest-serving U.S. senator in history, remains important because of the senatorial values he represents.

Inouye is in many ways the last of his kind, from the old school of courtly senators who believed in collegiality, bipartisanship, and most of all, the Senate’s elaborate rules that have enabled the body to provide stability in trying times.

Senators including Inouye acted in a statesmanlike and bipartisan manner to prevent a constitutional crisis after Watergate. More recently, a Republican-led Senate refused to go along with dubious attempts by House Republicans to impeach Bill Clinton.

Inouye has joined bipartisan efforts to prevent sidestepping of Senate rules for short-term political gain, and every committee he’s led has tried to move legislation that the minority as well as the majority could support.

But the Senate has become more partisan and ideological with every recent election, and this Congress will be the biggest test ever of whether the values of compromise and statesmanship represented by Inouye’s generation still rule.

Inouye made his pitch for the old values at his swearing-in yesterday, saying, “After nearly half a century of service in the Senate, I can assure you with great confidence that meaningful change is most often the product of bipartisan effort.”

The question is whether his colleagues from the younger generation will see him as a guidepost or a relic.

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6 Comments on “Don’t count out Inouye”

  1. Michael Says:

    “The question is whether his colleagues from the younger generation will see him as a guidepost or a relic.”

    As I am a Sansei, Senator Inouye opened many doors for Japanese.

    The motto “Go for Broke” was said by 442nd and some of my relatives to prove themselves Americans. Heartbreakridge was won by “relics”.
    I can do what I do because of “relics”. Those who follow unless they are Japanese cannot understand what loyalty and perserverance is.
    Meaning of “Go for Broke” means do or die. Gambatte to Japanese, meaning work hard and persevere. Loyalty to a company one works for. Friends. Senator Inouye is loyal to Hawaii.

    Senator Inouye is a “relic” or a guidepost, with respect I say, at his age, Both. If not liked as a person, he should be respected for his seniority and job title.

  2. Jim Loomis Says:

    I am unashamed to say that, for any number of reasons, Senator Dan Inouye is one of my heros.

  3. charles Says:


  4. Kolea Says:

    Not sure that “earmarks” and pork spending are identical things. But I call “BS” on the GOP campaign against “pork.” Republican zombie-activists like to talk about wasteful Democratic spending, but as a general rule, “Red States” get more federal dollars from Washington on a per capita basis than “Blue” states.

    Hawaii is an exception, due to Inouye’s strong ties. And the MAJOR military and intelligence presence here.

    Going into the midterm election, the GOP talking point was that the deficit was the main threat to our economic recovery. Talk about the looming “deficit threat” was jettisoned in favor of the tax cuts for millionaires.

    Oh they will use the issue to engender hostility towards “social programs” and “welfare,” encouraging white working folks to look upon the poor and people of color as parasites on an economy which would otherwise, in the GOP version, be giving high wage jobs to anyone willing to work hard.

    But they are unwilling to make the cuts which will hurt their own base. Plenty waha, little action. Pure BS.

  5. shaftalley Says:

    a professional politician like inouye can be a “great statesman” or a bipartisan,and still be corrupt.

  6. Michael Says:

    A politician can kiss a baby and
    at the same time steal its candy.

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