For six years on Capitol Hill, I worked for Congressman William E. Dannemeyer. It was the first real job of my 35-year political career. Now “Mr. D” is laid to rest after his own tireless career as a lawyer, judge, California state assemblyman (as a Democrat), U.S. congressman (as a Republican) and saint or sinner depending upon your worldview.
The numerous obituaries I’ve read nearly all sound the same: indefatigable, unapologetic, principled, laser focused, relentless, scrappy, combative and confrontational. These same obituaries are filled with other descriptors: homophobic, bigot, despicable, horrible and as his congressional nemesis for many years, Henry Waxman, called him “a mean and hateful person.” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen dubbed him “the Renaissance man of bigotry” in 1990 and The Advocate, the gay flagship magazine, later included him on its list of “the 50 biggest homophobes of the last 50 years.”