Lautenberg’s most significant legacy is his role in raising the drinking age to 21. In principle, I think the drinking age should be lowered. But given the American automobile landscape and the American tradition of teenage driving, it was almost certainly a good policy. If we could combine lowering the drinking age with massive public transportation infrastructure funding and a robust system to get kids home if they’ve been drinking, that would be ideal. Alas, we do not live in an ideal society. I don’t see how any could criticize Lautenberg’s second most important legacy, banning smoking on airplanes. I can’t even imagine riding an airplane full of smoke. Yuck.
Can’t say that I’m too excited about the inevitable Senator Cory Booker, but that was going to happen in 2014 anyway.