Eight Reasons Why Congress Offers the Worst Job in America

Welcome to a life of mooching, meetings, and trying not to get caught making out with your aides.

Take Republican Richard Lugar, who arrived in the Senate from Indiana in 1977. At the time, it was standard practice to move to D.C. Over the next 36 years, Lugar became one of the more eminent members of Congress. Until the last election, that is, when it was revealed that he'd sold his Indianapolis home three decades earlier.

The senator was soon attacked with headlines like this one, from the Daily Caller: "Richard Lugar doesn't live here anymore." His stock plunged so far he was beat in the GOP primary by a guy who believes pregnancy from rape is "something God intended to happen."

3. You're only one slip away from national ridicule.

Sherrod Brown had his photo doctored with a five-o'clock shadow in one ad to make him look as if he'd just returned from a three-week bender while living under a bridge.
Sherrod Brown had his photo doctored with a five-o'clock shadow in one ad to make him look as if he'd just returned from a three-week bender while living under a bridge.
Vance McAllister (R-Louisiana) engaged in a brief but festive makeout session with aide Melissa Peacock last month.
Vance McAllister (R-Louisiana) engaged in a brief but festive makeout session with aide Melissa Peacock last month.

The wonderful thing about being a normal human being: Your every misstep is pleasantly shrouded by your own obscurity. Not so in Congress.

"These people are running from appearance to appearance, and everything they do has the potential for catastrophe," notes one staffer. "All they have to do is slip off a stage or have a mic catch them in a swear word."

And when that happens, enemy yes-men will be lying in wait, ready to denounce your very soul with prefabricated acrimony and grave demands for apologies.

"We're perched on the ledge, hoping and hoping they'll say something outrageous," says the staffer. "And then it's like, 'Yes!' But then we have to pretend we're outraged. It's theater."

Every conversation, no matter how small, brings the possibility of nationwide derision, YouTube infamy and a featured spot in late-night monologues.

"You think you're sitting there talking frankly, and somebody's taping you on their cell phone," says Simpson. "And all they're waiting for is a gaffe. You're being followed all day — not for the purpose of what you're saying, but for that stupid little statement you make when you haven't slept but three hours the night before."

Even a trip to the store is cause for caution. Morella recalls thinking twice before she ever stepped out the door. "I would be careful, even when I went to the market, about what I was wearing. I had people contact me who didn't like my hair or my earrings. I had people say I was seen shopping for dresses in the sale aisle."

2. You will be 17 again — and not in a good way.

Politicians like to describe their profession as "war." It conjures a portrait of courage, gallantry and hand-to-hand combat — preferably featuring nicely oiled pectoral muscles. Which means it's a wholly unsuitable metaphor. When you fight by insulting people on TV, you're more Joan Rivers than George Patton.

After all, the dignified statesman does not stoop to fisticuffs. This is seen as inelegant — not to mention scary. So you assault your foes with innuendo, misinformation, rumor and, of course, Photoshop.

In other words, it's just like high school.

In the last election, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presumably hired the cast of Mean Girls to attack Sherrod Brown. In one ad, his photo was doctored with a five-o'clock shadow to make him look as if he'd just returned from a three-week bender while living under a bridge. Sherrod Brown: He doesn't even bathe.

Rumor works just as well, as West Virginia officials learned during the recent sign-up for Obamacare. Some residents resisted, having heard that it required the implanting of a chip in their bodies. This, apparently, was a deal-breaker.

You can even count on being undermined by your own party. Tancredo recalls the incessant pressure from leadership to toe the Republican line. On this job, independence is one of the graver signs, certain to leave lasting stains on your permanent record.

"The most serious threats they could muster is that you were going to ruin your career in this place," he says. "People there, that's the most enticing thing to them. I'd tell him, 'I don't want a career in this place. I don't even like this place.'"

Then there's the case of Congressman Vance McAllister (R-Louisiana). Last month, he was working late in his district office. This afforded him the opportunity to engage in a brief but festive makeout session with aide Melissa Peacock.

Problem No. 1: McAllister had appeared in campaign commercials with his wife and five children, promising to "defend our Christian way of life." (Most likely by renaming post offices after biblical greats.)

Problem No. 2: Ms. Peacock was married to someone other than Vance McAllister.

Problem No. 3: McAllister's amorous lip wrestling was caught on security tape. And leaked to a newspaper. Allegedly by someone on his own staff.

This Judas environment is to be expected. When an entire enterprise is built on avoiding accomplishment, backstabbing and palace intrigue become the sport of the realm.

DeConcini recently visited a Republican friend in Congress. "He told me how terrible it was," he says. "He said it was just awful, even in his own caucus. There's a gotcha feeling."

He then visited with a liberal Democrat. "He told me the same thing about the Democrats: 'I gotta have my way, and I gotta show that I'm tough.'"

But since everyone in Washington is busy being so not Washington, the toxicity of the job is always someone else's fault. Yes, crowing about "personal responsibility" plays before the cameras — yet only amateurs dare practice it.

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4 comments
DRAKEMALLARD.0
DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter


The fat cats in DC need to cut their OWN salaries, benefits and
pensions while they are at it. I know, I won’t be holding my breath for
that one!!. (They vote on their own raises, healthcare, and pension
plans, and we are left with the bill) while millions of Americans saw their incomes decrease, their job opportunities dissipate and their home values drop as the economy dipped, the 535 men and women they elected to represent them in the U.S. Congress were not only shielded from the economic downturn but  gained during it. The average American’s net worth has dropped 8 percent during the past six years, while members of Congress got, on average, 15 percent richer, according to a New York Times analysis of financial disclosure. The median net worth of members of Congress  is about $913,000, compared with about $100,000 for the country at large, the Times’ analysis found 

miss4588
miss4588

So how come the writer left out the most important part where you come in penniless and leave a mullti- multi-millionaire?

edisontvteacher
edisontvteacher

Now lemme get this straight: people are supposed to read this and agree that becoming a politician, a US Representative in particular, is a crappy job. Presenting the work of legislating as downright disgusting is certainly going to have a positive influence on a population already fed up with the process of lawmaking. As two of our most important jobs go down the tubes--teaching and legislating--where does that leave us as a society and nation?

DRAKEMALLARD.0
DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter

@edisontvteacher 

 
There's a reason for this, there's a reason education sucks, and it's the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It's never going to get any better. Don't look for it. Be happy with what you've got... because the owners of this country don’t want that. I'm talking about the real owners now... They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking.

George Carlin

 
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