Eight reasons why Congress offers the worst job in America

Categories: Politics

Featured-Art-congress-worst-job-feature-art-scott-anderson.jpg
Scott Anderson
Imagine, in a moment of suspended disbelief, that your job pays 174 grand a year. And comes with a $1.3 million expense account. And a staff of eighteen Ivy League yes-men whose sole duty is to bray loud and wide about the miracle that is you -- when they're not babysitting your kids or fetching your dry cleaning, that is.

You get free travel to anywhere on the globe. A private dining room and a private gym replete with swimming pool, sauna and steam bath.

Best of all, you're only required to show up for the equivalent of four months per year.

Former congressman Tom Tancredo had this life for a decade. By the time it was over, he'd caught that affliction known to anyone who hates his job: a fear of Monday mornings. "As I drove to work, I'd get a knot in my stomach, and it would just start to grow," Tancredo says.

Here's why:

8. Think of your day as a Bataan Death March of meetings.

The meeting. It's the most nefarious act in the American workplace, an assault of trudging monologues and plans never to be fulfilled.

Yet this is your life as a legislator. Meeting. After meeting. After meeting.

Your mornings begin with committee hearings. But since most members serve on four to seven different committees, "you can't just go to one hearing and sit," says former representative Steve Bartlett (R-Texas).

After all, the line outside your office began forming at 8 a.m. There are staffers, constituents, and captains of industry all wanting...meetings. Never mind the 12,000 registered lobbyists, who may suddenly lack the stamina to write a check if they can't get a sit-down.

So you knock them out in breakneck succession, with barely time to lob pleasantries and get down to business. "Everything in a congressman's life is scheduled within fifteen-minute increments, and oftentimes you're double-booked," says Bartlett, who subsequently became mayor of Dallas before heading a Wall Street advocacy group.

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Tancredo's day would usually begin at 6 a.m., lest his commute turn into a grinding two-hour pilgrimage courtesy of the D.C. rush hour. His meetings would run for the next ten hours. If the Colorado Republican wanted to speak on the House floor, he would still be working at 11 p.m., when a slot finally opened on the schedule.

Yes, it could all be a heady experience. "Powerful people beg for your vote," says one Capitol Hill staffer. "Ego-wise, it's an orgy at the Playboy Mansion."

It can also be enriching. Tancredo warmly recalls the deluge of information available nowhere else. "Every day you learned more shit about more shit," he says. "It was like a college education every couple of weeks."

The downside is that all this activity is usually for naught.

After all, this is a job of rigorous self-interest. Passing meaningful legislation only jeopardizes your survival, since it places your vote on a tee, there to be hammered by character-assassinating ads in the next election. So rather than act today, it's always best to speak of intended heroics in distant battles to come.

That means the most common vote you'll take is to rename a post office somewhere, which amounts to 20 percent of all legislation passed. According to former senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming), it's now all about running out the clock. "It's simply how do you stall until you get through the next election so you don't lose seats."

7. You will attend many parties. They will blow.

Washington is a party town. Bartlett often went to four a night, twelve months a year.

Yet D.C.'s definition of "partying" hews closer to the 1870s sense of the word. You will not lose yourself on the dance floor. You will not wolf shots of pomegranate vodka and end up sharing a bong with a ventriloquist named Renaldo at 4 a.m.

What you will do is shmooze and be shmoozed at dinners, receptions and fundraisers, where the most unrefined moment will involve a woman wearing pastel out of season.

"The typical reception was about a fifteen-minute in-and-out," Bartlett says. "Most bartenders would prepare 'the congressional drink' -- which is usually orange juice -- as soon as you come in."

Yes, there's a good chance that someone will buy you a steak the size of a sub-Saharan principality. But there's also a good chance that you'll be seated next to a lobbyist for the American Coalition for Clean Coal, who will treat you to a soliloquy on the respiratory benefits of airborne toxins.

"They're not a respite," says Tancredo, who's now running for governor of Colorado. "They're usually with contributors to the party, and you're supposed to shmooze. They're not always comfortable."

Worse, these events have a way of trampling lesser egos.

Washington is often referred to as "Hollywood for ugly people." But since there are 535 members of Congress, only the most prominent get the all-hands-on-deck obsequiousness reserved for Brangelina and Clooney. If you're a freshman from Minnesota or a back-bencher from Missouri, expect to play the role of Tori Spelling.

Connie Schultz knows the drill. She's the author of And His Lovely Wife, a memoir of campaigning with her husband, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). Though she may be a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, she's well acquainted with what's known as the "D.C. scalp stare" -- the practice of looking over the head of the person with whom you're speaking, preparing to leap at first sight of someone more important entering your field of vision.

"People are always looking over your shoulder as you're talking to them to see who else is coming in," she says. "It's ambitious, and it can be so impersonal."

Continue to keep counting down the eight reasons why Congress offers the worst job in America.


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14 comments
westwordreader
westwordreader

Excellent article.  Meaty, well-written, and enlightening.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

It seems that much of the time wasted is on lobbyists.  Take the money out of politics and you immediately excise the lobbyists.  


Meetings are not evil and a waste in and of themselves.  People are the time wasters.  Short, efficient, concise and purposeful meetings require a no nonsense leader and a specified time limit.  


Washington can be fixed.  We need to stop electing lawyers and other bloviators and start electing business managers.  But we better do it soon.


Electing more inept and clueless obamas will lead us down the road to destruction.  I only hope the country and the world survives the next two years.      

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@fishingblues Problem is that the conservative "fascist 5" ruled that money is speech and corporations are people.

Electing more inept and clueless rectumlickums will lead us down the road to destruction.  I only hope the country and the world survives the next two years of republican obstruction.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@fishingblues @muhutdafuga You're off topic again, oh he with the queer fantasies.

Let's see how many republican obstructionists made the list:

-- Republican Commissioner ( of Richland County, Ohio ) David Swartz pleaded guilty to molesting two girls under the age of 11 and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

-- Republican Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, Edison Misla Aldarondo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping his daughter between the ages of 9 and 17.

-- Republican Committeeman John R. Curtain was charged with molesting a teenage boy and unlawful sexual contact with a minor.

-- Republican anti-abortion activist Howard Scott Heldreth anti-abortion activist who gained fame during the Schiavo media-circus, was convicted of two charges of raping a child in 2002 .

-- Republican anti-abortion activist Nicholas Morency pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer and offering a bounty to anybody who murders an abortion doctor.

-- Republican campaign consultant Tom Shortridge was sentenced to three years probation for taking nude photographs of a 15-year old girl.

-- Republican pastor Mike Hintz,a First Assembly of God youth pastor whom George W. Bush commended during the 2004 presidential campaign, surrendered to police after admitting to a sexual affair with a female juvenile.

-- Republican legislator Peter Dibble pleaded no contest to having an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

-- Republican advertising consultant Carey Lee Cramer was charged with molesting his 9-year old step-daughter after including her in an anti-Gore television commercial.

-- Republican lobbyist Craig J. Spence organized child sex parties at the White House during the 1980s.

-- Republican activist and Christian Coalition leader Beverly Russell admitted to an incestuous relationship with his step daughter, the Susan Smith who drowned her adorable two sons "in cold blood" in a South Carolina lake in 1995.

-- Republican Judge Ronald C. Kline was placed under house arrest for child molestation and possession of child pornography.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@fishingblues @muhutdafuga You have as many fantasies about good Americans as you do about molesting children.

While we're addressing cult lies (yours), consider these lies by your peers:

10) Obama Doubled The Deficit.

This was a favorite of the Mitt Romney campaign. Throughout 2012, Romney repeatedly said, “The president promised to cut the deficit in half. He’s doubled it!” No. No he hasn’t. First of all, this line depends entirely on voters not understanding the difference between the deficit and the debt. See previous “simpleton” remarks. Indeed, the president has absolutely cut the deficit by way more than half in his first five years. When he took office, the deficit for 2009 was projected to be $1.4 trillion. The deficit at the end of 2014 will be $514 billion, just three percent of GDP. That’s a nearly one trillion dollar reduction in five years. Not only that, but the administration boasts the lowest year-over-year increase in government spending since Truman, and it’ll be one of just three administrations in the last 50 years that will have ended with a lower deficit than when it began. The last Republican do leave the White House with the same record was Eisenhower.

9) Man-made Climate Change Is A Hoax.

According to a clearly liberal agency called “NASA,” a full 97 percent of scientists with specific expertise in climate science agree that climate change is real and humans are causing it. We shouldn’t really have to say anything else. Of course if you’re Lloyd Christmas from Dumb & Dumber, and “one-in-a-million” means “there’s a chance,” then the three percent of scientists who aren’t sure about climate change obviously indicates that it’s a hoax.

8) Cold Weather Disproves Climate Change

Second in our trifecta of climate change myths is an annual favorite. Every time it snows, you know the drill. Whenever there’s a snow storm everyone from Matt Drudge to Rush Limbaugh suddenly achieves nipple erections hard enough to cut glass. And out comes the myth that climate change can’t possibly be real because it’s snowing somewhere. What they fail to explain to their disciples is that New York City or Minnesota or Washington D.C. isn’t, you know, the globe. Climate scientists base their global warming observations on global temperature averages. So while it might be snowing outside Sean Hannity’s house, average temperatures year-over-year are growing progressively higher.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@fishingblues @muhutdafuga There are so many conservative lies, even this small sampling won't fit on one post:

2) Exhaling Releases “Dangerous” CO2.

This is so dumb, it easily ranks as the most ridiculous climate change lie. Yes, more ridiculous than the blizzard thing. It’s truly astonishing that anyone with half-a-brain actually believes it. Speaking of half-a-brain, here are some prime offenders:

Glenn Beck:

“Carbon dioxide is basically this. (Exhales.) Look at how much pollution I just put out.”

Rush Limbaugh:

“We exhale CO2. If were a poison, it wouldn’t be part of the way we stay alive.”

Michele Bachmann:

“Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of nature.”

Mitt Romney:

“Now I know there is also a movement to say that carbon dioxide should be guided or should be managed by the Environmental Protection Agency. I disagree with that. I exhale carbon dioxide. I don’t want those guys following me around with a meter to see if I’m breathing too hard.”

The stupidity is, pardon the pun, breathtaking. On the surface, this “exhaling” silliness sounds like it might be true — if you’re really into uneducated, simplistic explanations for very complex topics. Not only does human breathing not even make the list of greenhouse gases but, chiefly, the ecosystem wasn’t designed to scrub out unprecedented levels of CO2 released by the burning of fossil fuels. Therefore all of that excessive CO2 is just lingering in the atmosphere, trapping heat and scrambling our weather patterns.

1) Voter Fraud Is A Serious Issue That Requires Strict New Voter ID Laws.

Nope. Not even close. Once again, this falls into the Lloyd Christmas category. Successful prosecutions of voter fraud cases barely amount to one one-hundredth of one percent of total votes cast in a single general election. In Ohio, for example, Secretary of State Jon Husted ballyhooed his war against fraud by nabbing a whopping 20 potential cases. 20 out of nearly six million votes cast in that state in 2012. The Bush Justice Department found that there were as few as 80 successful prosecutions of voter fraud cases out of hundreds of millions of votes cast since 2000. For this ratio of possible-fraud-to-votes-cast we’re told we need laws that make it more difficult to vote. By the way, some Republicans came right out and said it: this is all about electing Republicans.

That’s it. It’s of course foolish to think the Republicans will drop these lies and myths any time soon. But as long as various Republicans continue to repeat these transparently obvious falsehoods, they should expect that the rest of us will continue to think they’re either idiots or that they’re deliberately trying to deceive their own people — or maybe a little of both.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@fishingblues @muhutdafuga 

You have become boring.  No one is interested in your fantasies about me.  While speaking for everyone is inherently presumptuous, but if that isn't Prima facia, nothing is.  I bet it's even getting tedious when I amplify you making an obnoxious ass of yourself.  You need to come up with better material to be of interest to me, let alone anyone else.  From time to time, I may chose to ridicule you and manipulate you into showing once again how foul tempered the right wing has become.

If I'm so stupid, how is it that after many silly weak little attempts, you have yet to win an argument.  I even give you chances, but you're to dense to catch them!

Now get better material, you are now officially boring.  It is in your nature to come back with something about "officially."  That will be boring.  Just letting you know in advance.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@muhutdafuga @fishingblues


Golly stupid,did you forget, this is the third time you posted this shit.


Fuck you are stupid. Seriously!


Seriously fat, seriously ugly and seriously fucking stupid.


Fucking man-hating bull-dykes --- Jazus!

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