sen. daniel inouye on slate's 80 over 80

A couple of years ago, I put together a list called the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30. It remains one of the most popular features ever posted on this blog. I have to admit, it has never even crossed my mind to make a list on the other end of the spectrum. But Slate has done it: 80 Over 80: 2010, a list of the most influential octogenarians in America.

Who is the most noteworthy person on the list, for the purposes of this blog? Sitting pretty at #2 (apparently up one spot from last year): 86-year-old Daniel Inouye, the senior senator from Hawaii and the President pro tempore of the United States Senate -- the highest-ranking Asian American politician in American history:
#2 Daniel Inouye
86 Years Old.

Senior senator from Hawaii; Democrat. The World War II vet has been a member of Congress ever since Hawaii became a state. With Robert Byrd and Ted Stevens gone, Inouye is now "the last of a generation of old Senate lions," as the Washington Post put it.

  • Won ninth term in the Senate this year with a landslide 75 percent of the vote.

  • Assumed leadership of powerful Senate committee for appropriations in January 2009, after Robert Byrd stepped down. Chairs the subcommittee on defense appropriations.

  • In fiscal year 2010, secured $392,432,850 in earmark spending. He has referred to himself as "the number one earmarks guy in the U.S. Congress."

  • Sworn in as president pro-tempore of the U.S. Senate on June 28, 2010, marking him third in line to the presidency. He is also the senior member of the Senate.

  • That is a really influential old guy. See the rest of the list includes everybody from Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (#1), to Oscar-winning actor/director Clint Eastwood (#5), President Jimmy Carter (#32), legendary comic book writer/editor Stan Lee (#41), and poet/civil rights activist Maya Angelou (#49). See Slate's full list here.

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