Every week, our Anonymous Lobbyist answers your questions about how laws get made and why they probably shouldn't. If you have a question about the dirty business of doing business in Washington, ask her.
This week: how to recognize the good members.
Who do you consider a couple of the "good" MoC on the Hill? And why do you think they're good? Is it because they're always pleasant to meet with? Is it because they know the job is b.s. and don't feel they need to spread it around? Is it because their office always has fresh-popped popcorn available?
Well, look, I'm not going to give out awards to certain Members for not being stupid assholes (also, frankly, getting my nomination for being pleasant and easy to deal with might actually do them more harm than good politically). But, I can give you what I look for in a Member:
1. Free food in the office. Yeah, you totally hit that one on the head. Fresh-popped popcorn is, obviously, the high-end free food in this regard (go Iowa!), but there are also a variety of peanuts, sodas and the occasional candy item to be had. Because I'm far more reliant of Members'/staffers' schedules than they are on mine, if I've got a busy day running around the Hill, the little snack things are often lifesavers/lunch.
2. Intelligent, pleasant staff. Look, obviously, most people up there are college-educated, but that is not at all the same thing as smart. You can have all the education in the world and be completely unable to cope with real life or be able to make the necessary intellectual connections to be useful in your job. And, frankly, some Members don't hire staff that outshine them intellectually or that appear more capable/pleasant than the Member him/herself. As a lobbyist, it makes my day when I can use words with more than one syllable and get my point across to someone- even if they disagree with me. I just appreciate not having to spend my day talking baby talk to some kid- if I had wanted to do that, I would've gotten married, spawned, and stayed home with the rugrat.
3. Someone who likes to fuck with stupid lobbyists. Not to totally betray my compatriots here, but not all lobbyists are smart, or even reasonably intelligent. Plenty of my colleagues expect to get by on looks/ political credentials/ employer alone in this town. I mean, I don't necessarily have a problem with that in theory (God knows, I'm all about the laziest way to the highest salary), but it rubs me the wrong fucking way when I've spent days/weeks running my ass off researching and writing briefing papers and trying to get appointments and giving the same stupid spiel over and over again, and then some crap lobbyist who worked for some campaign and parlayed it into a job walks in and gives 30 seconds abut how it's important to his/her company with no forethought and that's all the Members cares about. On the other hand, I was once in a meeting with a group of that breed of asshole, and the Member was asking intelligent questions about a subset of a subset of an issue that had nothing to do with me, and they squirmed like bait in a bucket- and I loved it. I would go work for that guy in a heartbeat.
4. Someone who doesn't sell out her/his beliefs for more. This I'm just imagining, but I would love to see someone up there who didn't accept the politically realistic or expedient, who bucked party leadership because said leadership was opposed to what s/he thought was right and/or promised, who was really up there to do some good for his constituents/ the American people. And, maybe, some of them start off that way, but, then, they can't do any good if they aren't re-elected, and they can't do as much good if they don't have any power/good committee slots, so they sell little bits of their soul here and there that they consider unimportant... and then they're like every other politician up here, anyway.
I've been told that being a Senator is the "easiest fucking job in the world." Not only is everything legal on the Senate floor (except I hear, beating someone almost to death with a cane, and bringing a gun after threatening to shoot someone), but all the work is really done by the staffers. I've also noticed that on cspan senators are often conspicuously sleeping. Is lawmaking really the cush? Is there any downside to becoming a senator?
I mean, staffers can't vote and they can't call donors for campaign contributions, and no one wants to see a staffer talking shit on TV but, otherwise, yeah, they do most of the work. Plus, if you watch CSPAN, it's pretty fucking obvious how old those rat bastards are. I mean, old men need their naps and shit, and Old Country Buffet isn't open all night, so you can't ask too much of them. Being a Senator is pretty cush except that you can't wave your cane at people and talk about "when you were that age" and shit, because it doesn't go over with the voters -- unless you're Robert Byrd, in which case, yeah, have at it.