Also at the Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes has an interesting profile of several retiring House Republicans. What really jumps out is a fact that he brings up in the opening: John Dingell, Charlie Rangel, and John Conyers, who were no spring chickens back in 1994, waited 12 years to get back into the majority. A few committees and subcommittees are once again being chaired by the very same people who chaired them the last time the Democrats controlled Congress. Dozens of Republicans are rushing toward the exits after just two years. What gives?
Barnes gives one good explanation: Many senior Democrats expected to regain control of Congress quickly. In fact, the Democrats started whittling away at the Republican majority as soon as 1996. Republicans don’t have any such expectation this time around. But the large number of retirements, in districts many of these retiring incumbents might have been able to hold this fall, is one of the things that put Republican gains so far out of reach in the first place. One wonders if Democrats, being members of the party of government, simply like holding office better, on average, than do Republicans. That may make Republicans quicker to retire when they aren’t enjoying themselves while Democrats are content to wait a dozen years for their next majority or committee chairmanship.