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Not long ago, not far away, there was a GOP good guy

I’ve been reading some posts lately about Michigan’s Bottle Bill, which, for better or worse, was passed by a state-wide ballot proposal in 1978.

To this day, some praise our collective bottle deposit requirements, yet some still oppose them.

One proponent was the late Congressman Paul Henry of Grand Rapids, a good example of how far the Republican Party has deteriorated since he died in 1993. Henry was part of a tradition of Grand Rapids representatives that included Gerald Ford, Harold Sawyer, Vern Ehlers, Justin Amash and most recently Peter Meijer. Republicans who didn’t always march in lock step with GOP leadership. In fact, he once introduced a bill proposing Michigan’s bottle bill be adopted nationwide. Of course, it failed.

Ranger Rick probably would refer to such classic “moderates” as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) or “Remocrats.”

But Paul B. Henry was popular enough to win elections with more than 60 percent approval and after he died, they named the M-6 freeway after him. He was so popular that he still garnered more than 60% support from voters after being diagnosed as having less than a year to live.

I remember the night I learned of Henry’s problem. It was just before the 1992 election when he and Democratic challenger Carol Kooistra were scheduled to appear at a candidate forum. Henry was a no-show that night and I asked Kooistra what was going on. She told me the Congressman had been rushed to Butterworth Hospital with severe headaches and she suspected he had a serious illness.

The Grand Rapids Press had a front-page headline the next day that read, “Henry upbeat despite grim prognosis.”

Interestingly, Kooistra refused to do any politicking that forum night and afterward. Henry, through his office spokespeople, called her “A class act.”

That certainly wouldn’t happen these days, particularly in the GOP.

Then in January, a very sickly Henry was flown to Washington D.C. to take part in the swearing in. I later learned he had to have that done so his family could continue to collect his paychecks until his death.

Henry did another thing in my presence that I swear would never occur in these troubled times. In a candidate forum in 1990, he was asked why he was caught in a check bouncing snafu for congressional members. He acknowledged he had been fingered 25 times, but defended himself by saying fellow Congressman Howard Wolpe was caught eight times.

Henry said he didn’t agree with Wolpe’s politics, but he would never question his integrity.

It was July 31, 1993, that NPR reported Henry’s death. I was told he rarely awakened from sleep during his last month.

I personally had contact with Henry several times, the most memorable standing in line at McDonald’s in Wayland, where he was getting a bite to eat before delivering the commencement address at Hopkins High School.

Once again, this was something you wouldn’t see from a congressman these days.

18 Comments

  • There aren’t many times that you and I agree on things Mr. Young but the fact that Congressman Henry was a class act is definitely one of them. I think that any and all aspiring politician’s should be made to read this man’s autobiography (if one was written and if it wasn’t it should have been) before running for office and live by every word in it. Rest in peace Mr. Henry, you were one of the good ones.

  • I suspect Mr. Henry was upbeat despite his grim prognosis, due to his faith in Jesus Christ. I have his signed Bible from when he was young. It looks as though it did not sit and collect dust.

  • Oh and by the way……there are some good GOP guys yet. Perhaps just a few. Although the guys part is most certainly politically incorrect and I am shocked you used the term. Remember it’s the 21 Century now.

  • I met Mr. Henry at a wedding reception. The father of the bride had ties to the Henry family.
    The author of TB will not admit a political affiliation, but as many readers have ascertained he is left, left, of center. There isn’t a tax dollar or government program he doesn’t like with the exceptions of military funding and tax cuts.
    The Democrats always vote in lockstep with the party, never a peep from the author about their allegiance. But Republicans need to vote with Democrats?

    Those who did vote on this money grab for Democrat interests, very little for “infastructure” are useful idiots. We have no tax money to pay for this political boondoggle, and it will never be “paid for,” as Democrats claim, it will just be more debt future Americans will be saddled with to service. Better hope interest rates don’t rise. But under Biden’s leadership and amateurs in the administration (especially Granholm), it will rise.

    As for those Republicans crossing over to vote for this disaster, most will be retiring or forced out in the next election. The joke we have representing us, Fred Upton, should retire in shame. He’s always sided with Democrats, he should change parties. He’s an embarrassment.

    As for all the representatives you cited from Grand Rapids, they love(d) power and to go to Democrat parties, sucking down their booze and being happy with what little power they wield when in the minority. The establishment Republicans aren’t familiar with power like Democrats. They never let a crisis go to waste.

    Trump was the only Republican knowing what needed to get done to get America moving forward and not spending money on stupid crap that will have no impact on the future. Biden doesn’t even know what day it is.

  • Mr. Henry’s philosophy on Congressional duty was one that seems long forgotten, but should be first priority for all elected officials. He believed that his job was to represent the people of his district to Washington, not to represent Washington to the people.

  • Paul Henry, Gerald Ford, Vern Ehlers, Peter Meijer are now extinct. Will Fred Upton stick with the party whose members threaten to assassinate him?

    • They were all nice fellas. Honorable, congenial, and LOSERS.

      Happy to be also rans and suck- ups to the most liberal Marxists in the Democrat Party.

      Face it, Fred Upton is a complete loser and has been Democrat Light for years. Threatening him is energy wasted and I agree should never happen. But Upton knew better than help pass a joke of a bill. I’m sure he will seek retirement because he never fights for Republican ideals or ideas.

      If it were a bill for fixing and building new roads, bridges, ports and airports — everyone would be for it. About 40% of the bill is for those things. 60% of the rest is payback to Democrat supporters and a complete waste of money.

    • We use to have a law that kept politicians on the right path it was the Tillman act, but thanks to the right wing supreme Court we now have citizens united. So billionaires and corporations can buy their politicians. So one would have to ask why won’t any Republicans support the SB1 bill?

  • Mr. Anniebelle,

    You need to review your understanding of what party has the billionaires and media under their total control – DEMOCRATS.

    Get your facts straight.

      • Disingenuous! You got to be deBrothers.

        The big money tech companies all are big Democrat supporters. Murdock, DeVos, Koch’s, and Adelson are nothing compared to the tech folks, media giants, Facebook , Amazon, etc. You need to stay out of commenting if you are going to be untruthful like your media brothers.

    • Teacher, teacher the mean big bad basement dweller with anger issues war hero with no name is making fun of my last name, that’s ok I’m guilty of it too, but guy there is no bell in my name. But I don’t blame you I blame your parents and the Republican party for cutting funds to public education and letting you only achieve a 4th grade education… Skoal.

      • Annibelle,

        I’m sure I have more education than a Gar and I’m in the public every day (not an underwear wearing basement dweller like you and Mr. Longstreet).

        Your insults are feeble, unimaginative and more readers are Republicans and Trump supporters than you realize.

        By the way, how you feeling about Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and the amateur administration leaving Americans and $83 billion in tanks, planes, trucks, weapons and ammo in Afghanistan? How about the invasion at the border?
        Shutting down pipelines and oil drilling, and then begging OPEC for more oil? A president with no honor or support by our allies?
        And crapping his pants in Rome with the Pope?

        Yup, he is a winner!

  • Yep, I’ll take a winner over a crook any day. Mr Longstreet was right. I think you have become delusional. But then again, you were probably a cradle baby. That would would explain a lot.

    • Like usual, you can’t answer questions because you are devoid of reasoning and thought.

      Your president and his son are the crooks. The “big guy” is deep into graft and corruption with sonny.

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