Lately, some courageous career politicians like Newt Gingrich, John Boehner and Charley Rangel have bravely come forward to reveal a startling fact about the problems that challenge our democracy -- It's not their fault!
So, it seems only right that I step up and admit that I, Mike Larsen am to blame.
For two years, I disgraced my family and my country by serving as a Capitol Hill staffer. It might not sound subversive -- to work for peanuts serving the folks back home in support of someone you believe in -- but that's because you don't know the real story. Fortunately, some of America's most distinguished and patriotic douchebags are speaking out.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the latest on a bipartisan list of men who caused the problem who, shockingly, believes that the fault lies not with those who wield the power, but with the young people they hire to fulfill their every whim. He told a group at the Atlanta Press Club: "Of course it's the nature of the modern Congress, which hires lots of nice young staffers who have never had a real job, who spent their entire life being arrogant to visitors from back home, who end up thinking they know a lot because they stay up until 3 o'clock working on a word processor, and who write legislation as though they have some contact with reality."
Of course. That's the problem -- low-paid staffers who work until 3 am so their boozing boss doesn't look like an idiot at the next day's committee hearing. Thank you, Newt, for blowing the whistle on this asshole!
(And for God's sake, why is the kid still using a word processor?)
Fortunately, the Georgia Moralist has a better idea of what a congressional staffer should be doing at 3 am -- averting her eyes and stifling her gag reflex as Newt's marshmallow-y nakedness comes at her. (You might remember, Newt divorced his first wife so he could marry a woman on his staff.)
Indeed, congressional staffers serve many functions. I was a communications guy, others do legislative work or help constituents with problems (what Newt calls "being arrogant to visitors from back home."). Add to that list, "scapegoat" and, for disgraced New York congressman Eric Massa, "tickle-fight partner".
20-term congressman Charlie Rangel blamed his staff, most of whom were born since he's been in office, for not knowing better than he that a corporate-paid junket to the Caribbean might not be ethical.
Minority Leader John Boehner advised bank lobbyists tired of always getting their way, "Don't let those little punk staffers take advantage of you".
And wing-nut Devin Nunes actually called the dedicated young people who signed on for the monumental task of making him look coherent: "staff thugs".
Gee, why is it so hard to get good people to serve in government?
People in power who blame those beneath them are the same slime that treat waiters rudely. Don't you just know that every one of these blowhards is a crappy tipper?
Honestly, the people I worked with on Capitol Hill, regardless of party or point of view, were some of the smartest and most dedicated people I have ever met. I was one of the fortunate ones who worked for a cool boss who appreciates the hard work her staff puts in -- but many others do not. And House rules forbid them from defending themselves by criticizing a Member of Congress. Not that they would anyway, they're too busy working.
Arrogant punk thugs!
Follow Mike Larsen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/writemikelarsen