Dealmaker's Downfall

As one of the Capitol's most powerful legislators decides his fate, colleagues wonder how it happened

He seemed to have made a difficult transition from cog in the legendary Chicago Democratic machine to politician of the '90s. Not the blow-dried telegenic kind; burly, raspy-voiced Dan Rostenkowski remained a backroom dealmaker to the bitter end. He won vast respect as the Congressman who could + massage the tough bills -- tax reform, maybe health care -- into literally passable form. But, says Chicago political columnist Steve Neal, "he was caught in a sort of time warp," and he is under investigation for allegedly taking perks that were common in the Chicago wards of the 1950s, and even in...

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