Lee H. Hamilton is president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and director of The Center on Congress at Indiana University. Hamilton represented Indiana’s 9th congressional[…]
Lee Hamilton traces his career from his first term in Congress to serving on the 9/11 Commission.
Question: What were the milestones of your political career? Transcript:Well of course the big milestone was my first election to Congress. That’s a kind of an earth shattering event for me at the time, and I thought what a thrill it was. You know there’s a lot more luck in politics than most politicians will acknowledge. And I was a very lucky man. I’m a Democrat, and I happened to run in 1964, which was one of the strongest democratic years in that century. I’ve often said that any fool could get elected on the democratic ticket that year, and several did. But I was very, very fortunate because I . . . And lucky I ran in a year that was very beneficial to my party. I got elected. And because of really the advantages of the incumbency – and there are many – I was able to stay there. I went to Congress with no idea that I would be focusing on foreign affairs. I had an interest in getting on the agriculture committee and the public works committee – committees that I thought directly helped me in my constituency. I couldn’t get on, and one of the leaders came to me and said, “Well how would you like foreign affairs?” And I said, “Well I’ll try it for a year or two.” I tried it, I liked it, and I stayed there.