(1931 - 2015) Congressman Coble and Myself
A GOOD MAN, A REAL GENTLEMAN AND AN I HAD THE DISTINCT PLEASURE OF MEETING CONGRESSMAN HONORABLE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PEOPLE COBLE AT A BENEFIT I PERFORMED AT FOR THE VETERANS. I TOLD HIM I HAD ALWAYS WANTED TO SHAKE THE HAND OF AREAL POLITICIAN, AT WHICH TIME HE TOLD ME....BOY YOU DON'T HAVE YOUR SIGHTS SET VERY HIGH."
2014 News Article
Alamance County’s longtime representative in Congress introduced what he called his last piece of major legislation before he retires later this year. He did it last week, Wednesday to be exact for those scoring at home. The bill in question is called the Satellite Television Access Reauthorization Act of 2014 — otherwise known as H.R. 5036.Duly noted for historians regarding the career of one U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, a Republican from Greensboro.
It’s also contains the requisite and confusing jumble of bureaucratic jargon found in government documents. Let’s just say it deals with one of those laws that needs to be extended because it’s due to expire at the end of the year, which could jeopardize the ability of people to receive public access channels on TV.
In the end, it’s not a huge piece of legislation — Congress seems to have forgotten all about how to do visionary and significant stuff anymore anyway — but measures like this one have defined Coble’s long career in Washington. He’s adept at the day-to-day issues cable news doesn’t give two shucks about but still carries weight for the average Joe and Jane out there struggling to make ends meet.
That’s how it’s been for 30 years.
Coble took office representing the 6th District when Ronald Reagan was president, Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in what used to be known as the USSR, Marty McFly went “Back to the Future” in that Dr. Brown-customized DeLorean, a bunch of pop stars got together to sing “We Are the World” and people tuned into every Thursday to a place where “everybody knows your name.”
Coble did it first by winning a close election in 1984, then took another narrow decision two years later. Coble kept right on winning until everybody simply got tired of losing to him and just stopped running.And he’s accomplished it the way he has most everything else: Not too flashy, but far from insignificant, either.
THE COUNTDOWN process started in earnest for Howard Coble the day last year when he announced he would not be seeking a 16th term in office. At age 83, and with the decline in health not uncommon for someone his age, he decided to call it a career. It’s a lead-pipe cinch that Coble’s longtime press guy Ed McDonald will be noting his boss’s last-ofs from now to just past the November election when his replacement is chosen by voters.
But already, Coble has emerged as something of a star in his final congressional year. McDonald has delighted in sending out online listicles compiled by the magazine Buzzfeed on which Coble now regularly appears. In December, for example, Buzzfeed, which seems to have a crush on Coble, published something it called: “Why Rep. Howard Coble is 7 million times more badass than your congressman.” It cited everything from his record as a coast guard captain in the Korean War to his propensity for sporting a hat similar in style to that worn by the late legendary football coach Vince Lombardi. It also noted that Coble was unafraid to have his photo taken with Junior Johnson and a mason jar of moonshine; or with Burlington Royals mascot, Bingo — sans moonshine
Buzzfeed struck again in January naming Coble “The sexiest bachelor in Congress.” And in June Coble was held up by Buzzfeed as a shining example for his fashion sense, saying, “Why Everyone in DC should start dressing like this 83-year-old congressman." Apparently, they really, really like Coble’s plaid sports jackets. He can rock those hats, too.
But mostly, people in Washington seem to like Coble because he’s nice and no longer needs votes, eitherThat’s why after 30 years Coble has become an overnight sensation.
WHEN COBLE arrived in Washington in 1985, Democrats controlled the House, Republicans the Senate. Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House. Robert Michel was Minority Leader and Trent Lott Minority Whip. The North Carolina delegation included Walter Jones Sr. Today, as Coble prepares to exit, it has Walter Jones Jr. A lot of House members then are senators now. Among them, John McCain, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer and Charles Schumer.And when Coble first entered the U.S. House, Congress had an approval rating of just over 40 percent. Not much to brag about, sure, but consider where it is today. A Gallup poll issued just before July 4 found that a whopping 7 percent have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress, which was the lowest mark recorded in the 41 year history Gallup has asked about it.
Know what’s worse? Newspapers fared far better at 22 percent.Really. Newspapers beat Congress.
These days Coble is prepping to leave Washington’s political gridlock and his cult status behind. Meanwhile, the two Republicans battling to replace him are engaged in a bizarre war of words and accusations in the kind of campaign rhetoric Coble himself would never undertake. That seems about right considering the state of Congress today.Coble’s last piece of major legislation is now in the hands of this beloathed 113th Congress, which is already the least productive ever in terms of actual bills passed. The question is can they summon what it takes to approve one final thing for its aging fashion icon and eligible bachelor? Otherwise, Coble might have to go all bad on them.