According to a January 28, 2009, article in the New York Times by William Safire, there is a well-known phrase in Washington DC political circles with a very Idaho connection. The phrase is, “You can’t go back to Pocatello.” Its meaning is that once you’ve had a political career in Washington DC, it’s difficult to go back home and resume your old life on the fringes of the spotlight.
In his column, Safire wrote, “The origin of that delicious adage was recounted to me long ago by Jonathan Daniels, once press secretary to F.D.R. While in D.C. during World War II, Dick Neuberger, later an Oregon senator, pointed out a former senator from Idaho, Worth Clark, and told Daniels, “Somebody ought to write an article, ‘You Can’t Go Back to Pocatello.’ That’s his hometown.” Daniels asked why he couldn’t go back. “They just can’t. They come down here to the Senate or something. Then they get beat. It isn’t easy to go back and practice local law and lead local lives.”
Clark was part of an Idaho political dynasty that I’ve written about before. He served in both the House and Senate. Glenn Taylor beat Senator Clark in the Democratic primary in 1944. Clark ran again in 1950 but couldn’t get his seat back. He maintained a law office in DC and one in Boise, though, indeed, he didn’t go back to Pocatello. Clark moved to Los Angeles in 1954. There he had an interest in several radio stations. Worth Clark passed away from a heart attack at age 53.