Letters | Aug. 11, 2021


From Andrew Jackson to Carl Levin

Thank you for your article on Sen. Carl Levin’s passing (Obituaries, Aug. 5). Not noted, however, was Levin’s status as the longest-serving Jewish senator in American history. He was also the first unquestionably Jewish individual to chair the Senate Armed Services Committee — a position previously held by Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, and other notable figures. His legislative record was likewise formidable, making him Detroit’s Jewish lion of the Senate.

I had the privilege of working for Levin during his chairmanship of the legendary Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. As a young law clerk, I helped Levin and his staff document the manner in which Caterpillar, Inc., used Swiss affiliates to evade paying $2.4 billion in U.S. taxes. Levin demonstrated to me and to countless others that congressional work could be a viable, if not also noble career choice. Much of the virtue behind the work lay with the senator himself and the way he treated others. He was a mensch with little tolerance for nonsense — especially when the public interest was involved.

May his memory be for a blessing.


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