Last Friday, Congressman Jack Kingston left the office he’s held for 22 years.
Kingston, tied with Congressman Sanford Bishop for second longest-serving member of Georgia’s 16-man Congressional delegation, was the first Republican to win office in his coastal district since Reconstruction Era Andrew Sloan. By the end of his service, he was the senior member of the all-powerful House Appropriations Committee and the de facto leader of Georgia’s Republican delegation.
In a recent interview with Savannah-based WSAV, Kingston said he was most proud of his herculean (my word) efforts to deepen the Savannah Port as well as his advocacy for South Georgia’s military bases and agriculture industry. He advised the next Congress to “listen to the other side”, a comment that will likely be ignored by elected officials and noted by historians of American sclerosis. He praised “most members of Congress” and his staff for “a deep love of their country” (one delights to identify the others.)
If you watch that interview, you’ll notice a brief shot of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. Congressman Kingston (let’s be honest, we all called him Jack) was a frequent guest of that program, one of the last bastions of actual debate in the American media. In this clip, Jack shows the humor and humility that endeared him to his constituents and supporters; he labels a 2008 debate between candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as “whipping each other with Kleenexes” then laughs at his own political chicanery. Maher responds with “I’ll give you the best compliment I can: I don’t even think of you as a politician, because you’ve always been straight with me on this show.” For further evidence, see his fishing trip to the Reflecting Pool with Stephen Colbert.
According to WSAV, Kingston did not rule out another run at political office. Let’s hope not.
Eons ago, Jack Kingston ran for US Senate. I backed Jack, so I’ll give the last word to Charlie, who said when he shared one of Jack’s last Facebook posts, “Jack Kingston: Served with honor, leaving with dignity.”