Today, April 1st, is the first day in two years that I can say what I want. Until yesterday, I was employed as spokesman, speechwriter and press flack for a Member of Congress. As such, whatever I said or wrote was attributed to my boss and, honestly, I don't even claim credit for half the crap I spout. So, here are some basic observations from two years inside the belly of the beast:
1. Congress is a fairly adequate representation of America.
It's frightening, but true. House members and senators represent the best, worst and most mediocre of America. They're health nuts and heavy drinkers; family folks and philanderers; geniuses and Joe Wilson. Granted, women and minorities are under-represented and I have to believe that there's a much higher percentage of closeted gay Republicans here than in the country at large. But, all-in-all the lawyers, car dealers, community organizers and offspring of former politicians who serve in Congress represent us all too well.
2. Incumbents aren't the problem, likely voters are.
Seriously, has there ever been a more incompetent pack of idiots than those of us who vote in every election? The one constant that binds every political embarrassment - from Duke Cunningham to Rod Blagojevich to William Jefferson - is that they were all repeatedly elected by likely voters.
You want to vote out the incumbents? Fine, have at it. But what makes you think the dimwits who sent Virginia Foxx to Washington would replace her with someone from our planet? Not to mention the obvious fact that ridding Washington of incumbents is a never-ending chore. Every two years there's another batch of bums to toss out.
Besides, whatever problems Congress has - swollen prostates, an inability to listen, latent sexual deviancy - won't be cured by turning the institution over to rookies. Look at the states with term limits, like California, and see what happens to government when your legislators are all virgins and the lobbyists are high school quarterbacks.
3. Hypocrisy knows no party.
It's hard to beat a Treasury Secretary who doesn't pay taxes or the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee who can't handle money. But for pure balls-out hypocrisy, few hold a candle to South Carolina congressman Addison Graves (Joe) Wilson. Never mind the impressive BS skills to shorten the elitist "Addison" to just plain "Joe", Rep. Wilson's real skills are on display when he rails to his Tea Party base about the evils of government-run health care, while embracing government-run health care for he and his family. And I'm not talking about the Federal Workers plan that Congress gets. No, chickenhawk Joe benefits from military Tricare for as long as his tiny little legs are still kicking. This is a reward from a grateful nation for dodging the Vietnam War in 1972 by joining the Army Reserves and rising to the rank of Weekend Colonel.
4. The old definitions no longer apply.
I arrived in Washington thinking that I was pretty well-versed in politics, but quickly came to realize that even the most commonly-used political terms didn't mean what I thought they did. So here are a few definitions to help make sense of the evening news:
- Democrat - Member of a loose collective of unrelated ideologies whose success is based entirely on the alternative being so much worse.
- Republican - Patriotic American who believes in freedom, security and the good old days but comes across as a selfish, uncaring prick.
- Libertarian - Republican who smokes marijuana.
- Independent - Easily-swayed and gullible person who roots for whoever is winning.
- Pollster - Someone who made it through college by lying on math tests.
- Senate - A quaint, old fashioned institution like Colonial Williamsburg except we actually let them wield power.
- Boston Tea Party - An incident where rich white guys disguised themselves as minorities to vandalize a British ship.
- Tea Party Movement - White people who wish America was more like that.