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Posted on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

John Dingell named 'wisest' member of U.S. House in poll of Capitol Hill staffers

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor is known for having some of the smartest residents in the nation. Now it's known for electing possibly the smartest congressman in the United States.

That's according to a new poll that named 86-year-old U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat who has served in Congress since 1955, the "wisest" member of the U.S. House.

Coming in behind Dingell in the Washingtonian's "Best and Worst of Congress 2012" poll was Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer, followed by Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank.


John Dingell

Ryan J. Stanton |

The Washingtonian counts on top Capitol Hill staffers to call the shots for its poll. Every election year, it surveys hundreds of aides, press secretaries, legislative directors and chiefs of committee staffs for their take on the best and worst of Congress.

"At times, they proved as partisan as their bosses," the Washingtonian wrote. "But where it counts — for example, who's hot and who's not — bipartisanship tended to prevail."

Dingell, D-Dearborn, and Hoyer got votes from both Republicans and Democrats in the "wisest" category. The Republican with the most votes was California's David Dreier.

Awards were given out for best and worst tweeters, most and least eloquent, meanest and nicest, hottest males and females, biggest gym rats and party animals, biggest disappointments, most clueless, most and least partisan, biggest fashion victims, most and least likely to star in a scandal, and more. Staffers also named who they'd like to see in the White House in 2017.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.

Ha Ha Ha!! what a joke, figures a bunch of idiots vote another idot as wise...

Captain Magnificent

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

Whenever I call someone "wise" that's my way of saying that they talk slowly and give okay advice for an old person. I certainly wouldn't ask someone who I call "wise" to understand any modern trends like color TV, though.

Roger Kuhlman

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

John Dingell is the wisest Congressman??? Are you kidding. He is arrogant and does not listen to his constituents. If you want a career politician who has been in Congress for 57 years and serves special interests well, he's your guy indeed.

Joe Hood

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Billy: Paul Ryan would make a great Congressman (not to mention VP). I think John Dingell's wife would make a better Congressman, as she at least tried talking to people when John was still doing town hall meetings. I think John's wife didn't run because they didn't think she could not beat Cynthia Kalgren.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

Other than his age, who in the House of Representatives do you think doesn't fit your description?

Top Cat

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

This is a man that cannot put three coherent sentences together.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

This poll was taken by people that work with congress daily, which is a little more insightful than Talking heads spreading their Talking Points: interestng: Showhorse: 1. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) 2. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) 3. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) Biggest Disappointment 1. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) 2. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Paul's votes came from his own party, Rubio's from both. Clueless 1. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) A surprisingly bipartisan vote. Most Likely to Star in a Scandal 1. David Vitter (R-La.) 2. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Clueless 1. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) 2. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) 3. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) Johnson and Foxx got tagged by the opposition, Bachmann by both parties.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

Dumb and dumbest...god save us all....


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 11:17 a.m.

That may be true, but our state still has the economic free fall, not to mention the high price of gas....has his being wise helped us there, I don't think so......


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

fish, I am not saying that he raised gas prices...but we pay more than most....shouldn't he and the others find out why this is the case.....and do something about it.....we hear nothing but pipeline malfunctions and the like....


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

Specifically, how has Dingle raised gas prices?

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

among dingell's colleagues, 'wise' is a relative term.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 8:05 a.m.

Wise or not, one still has to question why southeast MI voters continue to reelect an 86 year old into office. Is southeast MI that short of middle aged talent? I think the problem is that southeast MI voters are lazy and rely too much on name recognition ... and are too interested in the "free beer" programs that Mr. Dingell seems to champion. Awhile back, I asked him about the $14 trillion in US debt that accumulated during his time in Congress. I never got a reply.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 1:30 a.m.

How's that regional mass transit funding comming along!!? Congressman Dinglell has failed Michigan for decades with the exception of throwing us a few crumbs right before an election. We need men like Paul Ryan representing Michigan rather doddering old embarrassments who's time passed decades ago. Detroit learnded their lesson and voted in an excellent Mayor but like the City of Ann Arbor, obviously in this District is loaded with clueless voters. When looking at all the legitimate talent in the Houses, this poll is absurd and obviously spoofed by those who participated.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

You need to take a walk and get some air Dave. You're not worried about obama's childhood mentor, communist Frank Marshall Davis; his pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, who expressed his feeling that the US deserved the 9-11 attacks during his God D_mn America sermon on March 14, 2008; and began his career with a send off party in the house of domestic terrorist Bill Ayers who founded the Weather Underground that claimed to have bombed the Sand Francisco Police Department in 1970. …yet you're worried that brilliant, charismatic, family man Paul Ryan read a fictional book by a failed writer? Wake up dude.

David Paris

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 2:04 a.m.

If you think the last recession was bad, just try voting for someone whose only economic inspiration is Ayn Rand!


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:35 a.m.

Seeing that Barney Frank placed high in the poll and that most, if not all reported info about Barney is correct - he stinks when it comes to truth and ethics, then what does it say about this poll about John? Maybe his wife tells the whole story. I have never seen her smile.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

If he is so wise, why did he not resign in protest when he was stripped of his committe chairmanship?


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.

They must have meant oldest.

Dog Guy

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 11:06 p.m.

A bodhisattva appeared to the zen master in the meditation hall and offered him choice of highest wisdom, greatest wealth, or longest healthy life. After the zen master chose highest wisdom, his students waited with bated breath for his first utterly wise sentence. "I," said the zen master, "should have taken the money." Dingell far surpasses the zen master by having achieved the same utter wisdom before age 30 and having practiced it ever since.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 10:46 p.m.

Interesting that Barney Frank is near the top in the voting. Was this a Democratic only poll? Barney is retiring not the best terms from what I understand. So, how he can rate so high is a joke! He personally misled many during the mortgage bank failure troubles with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So, I take this poll as being 'dream land'!


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 10:32 p.m.

Arrogance just drips from the use of statements like"Ann Arbor is known for having some of the smartest residents in the nation". I find it quite embarassing. Using this statement does nothing for the John Dingell article.

Rod Johnson

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

It's just an writer on deadline who has to rewrite a press release to meet his quota, going for the easiest, laziest possible way to make this story "interesting" enough to run some ads over. It's the "Ann Arbor Model" of news at work before your eyes.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

Goob... I agree. Do we know the source of this concept and comment about AA? Is it 'self-generated'? Or, was it taken 'out of context' from some other source? If can help us better understand why they would use this language and statement, it would help us immensely.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

He has certainly helped AA in the last couple of years with the funding for the Stadium bridges. Thanks to Mr. Dingle.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

Amazing that Dingle is single handedly responsible for all of that debt!! Why I bet when the GOP ran congress they dropped that debt...oh, nope, they raised our nations debt load, then cut revenue some more. Did you support both wars, Outdoor? Have you paid for them yet? Dingle voted against the Iraq War, that alone makes him wiser than many in congress.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:27 a.m.

Thanks to the cut taxes and spend Republicans. At least the Democrats have enough sense to raise taxes to balance the budget. I remember guys named Reagan, Bush Sr. And Clinton did that. Oh, that's right, Clinton was the only Democrat. Can't blame Obama for having to deal with two unfunded wars and the worst economy since the Depression. Jr. And Cheney deficits will be remembered a long time.... Oh, that's right, Romney and Ryan don't remember them, wonder why?


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

During his spending reign, we have gone from less than $1 trillion in debt to $16 trillion in debt. How "wise" is that?


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 10:07 p.m.

He's the wisest?......that would explain a lot............


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

Truly, this is 'good for him'. But the headlines state - "possibly the smartest congressman" this the same as wisest? What was the poll - wise or smart?


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

He is really responsive to requests for help and follows through with thoughtful detail. I appreciate that and I'd bet most who have asked him for help over the years feel the same. If a representative is responsive to his constituents, that's wise!

Joe Hood

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

If Outdoor sent a form to him, he should still get a reply. Not everyone has the ability of good writing and Outdoor is still a constituent. Personally, I've received responses from Dingell's office (unlike any of the rest of the folks I've written to on matters (US Senators and council people)). I don't agree with the direction Dingell has taken this country and am hopeful that Cynthia Kallgren replaces him in the newly formed 12th District. Since Rebeccah Warren said I should vote for a girl, not a guy, I'm going to do what she asked!


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 10 a.m.

Outdoor, Easy to see why, if you sent a form to him, you did not receive a response. You get what you give. Simple as that. If you want respect, give it.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

I have put the questions in a non-judgmental, information seeking form. However, if it appears you are not sucking up to the congresman he is perfectly willing to ignore you. Certain types of question tip your hand as to what you think is important. Since you and the congressman have a good repore, as a test ask him, how he plans on reducing the $1.2 trillion deficite for FY 2013. I will bet he will not answer.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:36 a.m.

Outdoor, put together an articulate, thought outline and then be sure that your letter is polite and respectful. I have always received answers when I use that methodology. All people, politicians included, respond well to positive respectful requests.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : midnight

You sre kidding I assume. I have sent letters to Congressman Dingel asking his position on deficite spending, balanced budget admendment, fuel economy standards and other issues. I am still waiting an answer on all of those issues. Guess I should have asked for a new bridge.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

Well he is the oldest "owl in the barn." No sure brings a lot of wisdom though...

Morris Thorpe

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

Being named the wisest person in Congress is like being named the most common sensical commenter on

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

John...Good job! Now, how about moving up to a new level where there is some decent competition!?

John of Saline

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

Asking political suck-ups about wisdom. There's a joke in there somewhere.