Still, most now boast of keeping their families back home. Others make public spectacles of sleeping in their offices. Look! I'm so not D.C., I don't even have an electric bill here!

"Members will get criticized if they move their families to Washington, because they'll be seen as out of touch with the district," says Martin Frost, a former Democratic congressman from Texas. Occupationally speaking, this can be a lethal accusation.

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 beaten 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.

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 dealbreaker.

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.

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16 comments
ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

DeConcini - Mr. CCA -  mass incarcerating Arizona's people, with his private prison profiteer cronies. Shameful. Profiting off human misery is unethical and immoral. 

Doug Cleland
Doug Cleland

I thought Phoenix Arizona was ran by the Teabilly party.

ricksteinheiser
ricksteinheiser

Great article. It's a wonder we've made it nearly 250 years as a country

arizonanewtimes.com
arizonanewtimes.com

I can think of many reasons why Obama must be impeached for breaking the law.

fsmith3
fsmith3

Tancredo was one of the most notorious nutcases in Congress.  He ran for president for a few weeks where he was most noted for saying he didn't believe in evolution.  He was more anti-Hispanic than Sheriff Joe.


DiConcini until very recently was a board member for the corrupt for-profit prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, resigning only when he began to get picketed.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

Public F-ing leaches is all they are.

Cris Cross
Cris Cross

Poor little f-ing Crooks. They should all be fired

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.      

Electrica
Electrica

@fishingblues "People are the time wasters." WELL! Don't waste your time talking to people you space alien fuck!

Electrica
Electrica

@fishingblues Go blow yourself up in a fake war you bastard. Go suck Rush Limbaugh's big fat cigar. You deserve it.

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

@fishingblues No the "faux" Iraq war, we should never have been, with their Patriot Act taking away the peoples' right set up down the path of self-destruction and trillions of dollars, with no end in sight. Thank Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and those who supported them. If they hadn't been such a devastating failure, Obama would never have won. Blame yourselves.

fsmith3
fsmith3

Simple solutions for simple minds.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@ConcernedCitizenAZ


Just out of curiosity, do you ever post anything that is not bat-shit crazy?


Damn, no one I know liked the Iraq war.  Do you think you own that issue?


I've heard obama and the loony libs blame Bush for every failure, now you are saying it was Bush's fault that obama was elected?  


Jazus!  

 
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