What’s in a name? - journalpatriot: Opinion
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What’s in a name?

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Posted: Friday, January 29, 2016 2:00 pm

Rampant gridlock and political scandals are nothing new to Washington. However, the failures of the 114th U.S. Congress have probably elevated the level of popular disdain for our current elected officials to new heights.

In 2011, the outrageous behavior of disgraced New York Representative Anthony Weiner left the nation cringing yet again. Weiner eventually admitted to sending a series of inappropriate messages and images to women via social media, and resigned.Given his name, it was difficult to discuss the incident without smirking. Which got me thinking.

There are 541 members in the current 114th Congress – 435 in the House of Representatives plus six non-voting delegates, and 100 from the Senate. Are there members in the current Congress who also have interesting names?

Turns out that quite a few do. So here is a guide to current congressional names that are all real and, unlike some of the individuals they belong to, unadulterated.

The most common last names are Johnson and Smith (five each), followed by Scott (four), then Young, Davis and Bishop (three each).

Some of the more unusual names include Ruppersberger, Frelinghuysen, Luetkemeye  and Sensenbrenner.

It would seem there are a few colorful individuals in Congress, too, including one Black, a couple of Browns and Greens, a Grayson and a Whitehouse.

The list also includes members who are Kind, Blunt, Jolly, Hurt, Long and one who is Hardy. There’s a Flake, a Harper, another is the Pitts and one is a real Payne. Surprisingly, there’s just a single Brat in the group. And even on a good day, one senator from Idaho is always Crapo. Others are just plain animals including Reps. Foxx, Labrador, Fincher, Bass, Doggett, Duckworth and Sen. Coons.

There is a Waters, Wasserman, Brooks, and Meadows, as well as a Boxer, a Cook, a Gardner, and a Hunter.

Rep. Slaughter is known for her killer speeches, while Rep. Cleaver’s wit can cut an opponent down to size. Unfortunately, Senator Lugar retired in 2013 – he was a straight shooter.

And despite touting several Bishops, no Christian is listed on the current Congressional roll. The international crowd is represented, too, with Daines, some Scotts, and Rep. Deutch, as well as Representatives Israel and Jordan (not surprisingly, on opposite sides of the aisle).

Many members do try to keep active, especially Representatives Walker, Trott, Walz and Roe. However, Rep. Neal doesn’t overexert himself.

Some members might even claim presidential heritage since the group boasts a Carter, Adams, Buchanan, Wilson, McKinley and Johnson. And for military buffs, there’s a Lee, Sherman, Kuster and MacArthur.

There are plenty of Lewis and Clarkes, several Mr. Rogers, and a Daniel Webster. And let’s not forget a bunch of Bradys, too. In the House, there’s also the Love/Hurt’s Financial Services Committee.

Until Ben’s retirement in 2013, Bill and Ben Nelson were both Democratic senators. Now, when Bill is called to vote, it’s officially recorded as a half Nelson. And sometimes, despite their opposing political views, Rep. Lance has been known to assist Rep. Boyle, much to the latter’s relief.

After Republican Doc Hastings retired last year, Democrat Alcee Hastings is the only Hastings remaining. Which is just as well, since the two would often go head-to-head on the House floor invariably leading to a Battle of Hastings.

Most members, however, are able to avert conflict. Rep. Duncan prefers to ignore the fray and nibble on donuts, while Rep. Goodlatte relaxes with cups of hot coffee. As for Sen. Boozman, they don’t ask what he sips to keep calm.

While we sometimes see ugly partisan debates in Congress, it’s still unprofessional for either side to tell colleagues to go to Heck. That’s because both Dennis Heck, the Washington Democrat, and Joe Heck, the Republican from Nevada, are still fairly inexperienced members to seek out for advice.

Although rare, members sometimes put politics aside over social pot-luck meals. At such gatherings, there is bipartisan support welcoming Reps. Franks, Rice, and Salmon. But Reps. Clay and Mica rarely receive invites, despite being down to earth guys.

After reading through the list of House and Senate members, I was still left with quite a few unanswered questions:

Could we really trust Ohio’s Rep. Fudge to chair the House Finance Committee? I feel that committee went into decline after the retirement of Reps. Schilling and Pence.

Just how supportive of the U.S. auto industry would Rep. Honda be?

Was Rep. Yoder ticked off by the absence of an important character in the new Star Wars film?

And, let’s face it, isn’t Senator Graham crackers?

It’s often said that voters have short memories when it comes to politics. Perhaps. But when November finally arrives, I suspect quite a few more “weiners” probably won’t make it to the 115th Congress.

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written for over 600 magazines and newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @TinseltownTalks.

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