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Congressman Bob Kastenmeier Served Us Well

Friday, April 24, 2015 10:45
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(Before It's News)

These last few weeks have seen the passing of a liberal stalwart who served America well. Former Congressman Bob Kastenmeier (D-Wi) died on March 20, 2015.

I worked with Bob as I was the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) lobbyist from 1963-1966. I had the good fortune to be a “gofer” for Joe Rauh and Clarence Mitchell, civil rights legislative leaders in Washington. Bob was elected from Madison in 1958.

I was a newly minted lobbyist arriving in Washington in early 1963. I learned to hang out in Bob Kastenmeier’s friendly office where he was a member of the House Judiciary Committee and its all important Subcommittee #5. This subcommittee was a rare liberal zone chaired by Manny Celler (D-NY). Peter Rodino (D-NJ) served on it as did Jim Corman (D-Ca). There we plotted our moves. Kastenmeier and Corman were the juniors so they were accessible to me. I learned lots from them. Bob was a careful legislator: Language and precision mattered. In his quiet, and persistent way, he influenced many.

Bob was unusual politically in that he had a passion for civil liberties, almost alone-there were only a few others– among House members then. As time went on we worked on opposing the Vietnam War together early on. Bob developed an expertise in intellectual property and copyright law. He was one of the few who understood the intricacies and nuances of each subject. That expertise made a lasting contribution.

Bob, though from Madison, was much more liberal than his District. He excelled at getting flags that flew over the Capitol for American Legion and VFW posts. That service, and actively servicing his constituents, gave him the permission to be the stalwart principled liberal he was.

David Cohen
Washington, DC
March 25, 2015

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