The current US senate turns out to be the oldest on average of any senate in history. It makes a good selling point for young challengers, but it’s really a side effect of increasing longevity. The Senate Historical Office reports that the average age of senators at the start of this, the 111th congress, was 62.7 years. The average in the first congress, over 200 years ago, was a mere 47.
The last three congresses have each been the oldest on record until the next bunch of near-geriatrics arrived? The average is boosted by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, now 92. With 50 years in office, he is not only the longest-serving senator in history but, with six years as a congressman, the longest-serving US legislator of all time. When ambulances were rushed to his Virginia home in September, there was talk of retirement. But the Democrats fear losing his seat so he soldiers on.?
Meanwhile, a survey by JP Morgan has claimed that Obama’s cabinet has the least private sector experience of any administration going back to 1900. The report looked at the heads of 15 departments and concluded that over 90 per cent of them made their careers in the public sector. But website Politifact disagreed, arguing that a third of these cabinet members had corporate or business experience. The survey’s author has backpedalled, calling his methodology “100 per cent subjective.”
This article first appeared in the January issue of Prospect