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All-time Senate giants

Dana Milbank’s dismal column about the alleged absence of “giants” in the current Senate has prompted me select 20 all-time Senate giants. As with most all star teams, halls of fame, and alike, there are no fixed criteria. However, there are two rules. First, current Senators are excluded. Absent this rule, John McCain and Orrin Hatch would rate consideration. Second, ideology isn’t taken into account. A Senator does not make or miss the list because of my view of what he stood for and tried to accomplish.

Here’s the list:

Henry Clay (Whig-Kentucky)
John Calhoun (Democrat-South Carolina)
Daniel Webster (Whig-Massachusetts)
Thomas Hart Benton (Democrat-Missouri)
Stephen Douglas (Democrat-Illinois)
William Seward (Whig/Republican-New York)
Charles Sumner (Free Soil Democrat/Republican-Massachusetts)
James Blaine (Republican-Maine)
Roscoe Conkling (Republican-New York)
Robert La Follette (Republican/Progressive-Wisconsin)
Robert Wagner (Democrat-New York)
Robert Taft (Republican-Ohio)
George Norris (Republican/Independent-Nebraska)
Arthur Vandenberg (Republican-Michigan)
Lyndon Johnson (Democrat-Texas)
Hubert Humphrey (Democrat-Minnesota)
Everett Dirksen (Republican-Illinois)
Barry Goldwater (Republican-Arizona)
Ted Kennedy (Democrat-Massachusetts)
Robert Dole (Republican-Kansas)

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