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January 24, 2003 - Image 66

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-24

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Cover Story






from page 66

are automatic and speak to
their closeness.
Sandy was born in 1931;
BORN: June 28, 1934; age 68
Carl three years later. Growing
EDUCATION: Harvard University
up, they were the opposite of
law degree, 1959; Swarthmore
College, BA, 1956.
"We did everything togeth-
er," said Sandy, including
Council, 1969-77 (president 1973-77);
going to the same summer
elected to U.S. Senate, 1978.
camps. "Carl won 'Best
PERSONAL: Wife, Barbara, three daughters,
Camper' award when he was
three grandchildren.
7." Carl admitted, "I was mis-
erable. They gave it to me to
make me feel better."
Re Sander In
The brothers were constant
BORN: Sept. 6, 1931; age 71
companions. As soon as Sandy
Harvard University
could drive, he took Carl fish-
law degree, 1957; Columbia
ing in the Upper Peninsula. A
University, MA, 1954; Columbia
year later, they traveled out
University, BA, 1952.
West together. And they
learned sports together, too.
ELECTED OFFICES: Oakland County Board
of Supervisors, 1961-1964; Michigan State
When Sandy thought his lit-
Senate, 1965-1970; ran for Michigan gov-
tle brother would make a good
ernor, 1970 and 1974.
shortstop, he endlessly hit balls
to Carl at the Central High
PERSONAL: Wife, Vicki, four children, seven
School baseball diamond. Years
later, Carl would play junior
varsity ball at Swarthmore
They still try to make it back to
College in Swarthmore, Pa.
Michigan homes most weekends
They both played on Central's ten- •
usually be spotted together
nis team, and played pickup basket-
rallies and other
ball games at their Detroit home on
the stage with
Boston Boulevard.
and other
"We had a three-car garage, but
during a
never more than one car," Sandy said.
Their father, Saul, an attorney, helped
them put up the large wooden back-
"Remember the day we put it up?"
Sandy asked Carl. Carl says nothing,
just gives his brother a look and rolls
his eyes.
"How we ever got that up with
Dad, who was not the most athletic,
I'll never know," Sandy continued,
despite Carl's eye rolling.
The Levins weren't rich, but they
were comfortable.
Saul took the bus to work every
day. On Monday nights, their moth-
er, Bess, would pile Sandy, Carl and
Hannah, their older sister, into the
car to pick Saul up at the bus stop.
Then they'd drive to a restaurant for
sandwiches and Sanders ice cream.
The two brothers shared a bedroom
until Sandy went to Columbia
University, then found themselves
rooming together again in 1957, dur-
ing Sandy's last year of Harvard Law
School and Carl's first.
"He wanted to make sure I would
not goof off too much," Carl said.
That closeness really hasn't dimin-
ished after spending more than 20
years on the Hill, though the hectic
pace makes it more complicated.

pro-Israel rally at the Jewish Com-
munity Center in Oak Park.
Sandy's wife, Vicki, said they get
together with Carl and Barbara when
"We used to get together every
week in Michigan, but it's been
tougher since we got to Washington,"
she said.
The brothers seem to be in con-
stant contact.
"When one is having a political
adventure, the other one jumps in,"
she said. "They don't just say, 'You
know I'm on your side.' They roll up
their sleeves and pitch in."
Sometimes their closeness prompts
razzing from other legislators. For
example, the brothers began playing
squash in law school and still play
each other regularly. Their squash
exploits are legendary on Capitol
Hill, and legislators razz them and
always ask who's ahead.
"We estimate 15,000 games of
squash, and we're dead even," Carl
As they walk the halls of Congress
this day, both men hear familiar ques-
tions from fellow congressmen:
"What the hell did your brother do
yesterday? How does he explain it?"
The running joke in Congress is
that the most communication there is

The Levin clan watches Carl sworn in by Vice President Dick Cheney.


between the House and the Senate is
between the two of them.

Media And Partisan Politics

Looking at Washington politics from
their longtime vantage point, the
Levins make two key observations —
the fundamental differences between
the parties have created an ebb and
flow of partisanship, and the cable
news networks have had a somewhat
negative effect on how Washington is
More news is needed to fill the 24-
hour news cycle, and greater competi-
tion means a harder edge on the views,
Carl said.
"They're fighting with each other
and they want the more dramatic, the
more contentious, the more conflicted
comment in order to build up their
market share, so they'll pick on select
people who they think will be more
contentious," he said. "They need the
sound bites."
Dwindling local television coverage
of government is also to blame, Sandy
added. In the old days, "television sta-
tions would come to town meetings.
Now the local news doesn't cover
what's going on in Washington or in
A fundamental difference in the two

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