John Dingell: Serving Since 1955, a House Institution

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America’s new president has collided with this old reality: Washington likes some kinds of change more than others.

Consider the institution that is Representative John D. Dingell, a Democrat who has represented Detroit since 1955 and who this week becomes the longest-serving House member in history.

Mr. Dingell applauds President Obama’s drive to expand health care coverage, a cause that he and his congressman father before him have championed since Franklin D. Roosevelt occupied the Oval Office. He has less interest in Mr. Obama’s quest to purify the political processes of Pennsylvania Avenue, which last week helped trip up the administration’s choice to lead health care reform.

“I’m not one who thinks Washington is an evil place,” Mr. Dingell said in his suite at the Rayburn House Office Building. “Bad people do bad things here, but they do them everywhere.”

Rather than trying to change the capital, Mr. Dingell concluded, Mr. Obama stands the greatest chance of succeeding “if he were to try to make substantive change that would help people.”

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