When Ineptitude and Futility Seem to Become Indistinguishable

Nate Silver’s unfavorable projections seem to have spiked progressive interest in the November elections, in which control of the House and the Senate, as well as control of a number of state governments, will be at issue.

A fairly large number of House members and senators have decided not to seek re-election and to retire at the end of this term. For some, the decision simply represents their recognition of the inevitable end of their lengthy careers. For others, the very bitterly partisan atmosphere and the almost complete absence of any bipartisan compromise in the Congress have simply become too much to bear. Still others faced difficult primary challenges or general-election campaigns and decided that re-election either wasn’t worth the effort or wasn’t likely enough to warrant the effort.

Although it may seem that I have covered the whole gamut of possibilities in the previous paragraph, I am not sure that Robert E. Andrews (Democrat-New Jersey) fits into any of those categories.

Over 23 years in Congress, Andrews has introduced 646 bills, and not a single one of those bills has been passed.

This record of either ineptitude or futility, or both, came to light when he announced his retirement in early February. I am not sure whether or not this record is unique in the annals of the Congress, or whether or not he has since introduced some bill that was certain to pass simply so that he would not retire from Congress with this sort of dubious distinction.

If I were Andrews, I would not, however, attach my name to anything short of some sort of landmark legislation: that is, I would not sponsor some bill renaming a post office or a federal highway or declaring some date a special commemorative day for this year.

If he had ever been intent on avoiding a career 0-for, he should have sponsored such a trivial piece of legislation a long time ago. In fact, it’s kind of astonishing that he never did that.

Perhaps he has been and remains a man of principle.

Or perhaps even those kinds of trivial bills that he sponsored somehow didn’t pass.



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