Lindy Boggs’ Old-World Path to Congress Blazed a Trail for the New
Upon her death on July 27 at age 97, Lindy Boggs had been gone from the Capitol for more than 22 years, longer than her time as the Democratic congresswoman from New Orleans. But the tributes pouring forth indicate a political force still quite close to the present. They also suggest congressional ways of doing business that have almost disappeared altogether.
The speed with which President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton offered their mini-eulogies suggested that Boggs had remained indispensable to the end at the center of the capital’s power culture.
In reality, since her tour as ambassador to the Vatican ended in 2001, her influence had mainly been as matriarch of one of the most plugged-in of all Beltway families — her son Tommy is in the pantheon of K Street players and her daughter Cokie Roberts is in the top tier of capital pundits.
To recall Boggs’ contributions to the legislative and institutional life of the Capitol, though, is to conjure up not only a sense of nostalgia for some aspects of life on the Hill in the 1970s and 1980s, but also several head-scratching reminders of how things look to have changed for the better.
Both Obama and Clinton described Boggs as a champion of civil rights and a trailblazer for women. But the ways in which that was so are pretty far afield from the norms of their party’s politics today.
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