Young, right, and then-Rep. David Obey, leaders of the Appropriations Committee, work together in 2001. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Maybe it’s tautological, but maybe, too, it’s worth a reminder that the funerals of politicians are inherently political affairs.
Still, it’s something of a gobsmacking surprise how this week’s services for C.W. Bill Young have become so overtly politicized on so many levels.
When the longest-serving congressman in Florida history, and the longest-tenured Republican in Congress, died on Oct. 18 at age 82, succumbing to complications from a chronic back injury just 10 days after announcing his retirement, he was showered with bipartisan tributes to his kindness, collegiality, collaborative skill — and relative humility for someone with such a strong hand in apportioning half a trillion dollars in military spending every year.
His were all the attributes that Republicans and Democrats alike agree are in woefully short supply in the modern Capitol. They are none of the characteristics that might predictably lead to a partisan catfight near his bier, or a wave of tea party annoyance about how generously Congress is paying its respects.
Or even an obsequious full-page tribute in The Washington Post from the nation’s biggest defense contractor. “His leadership as a great defender of our freedom will always inspire us,” Lockheed Martin gushed, leaving unspoken the irrefutable truth that Young never met a fighter jet he didn’t like. Full story