@PltclPrtyCrshr (No. 1)
Let me explain how I got to writing this weblog. I could call it a blog, but I’m not going to do that. I’m calling it a weblog because the word weblog is awkward and no doubt will confuse a few people.
Actually, I’m not going to explain how this started. That would entail revisiting an unknown point in my childhood when, like plenty of other nerds, I got bit by the political junkie bug. Probably right after talking my way out of writing the mandated long report about my Bar Mitzvah haftorah. The inviolable rule at my temple was no report, no Bar Mitzvah, no exceptions. Evidently, I was the first twelve-year-old to think to call the bluff.
I’m sure I could spend time in deep reflection about why I got bit by the political bug, but I’d probably only find that the answer is something embarrassingly petty (Air Force One is super cool), obnoxiously self-serving (I’m smarter than these blowhard politicians), or more likely, some of both.
So I’ll start after the bug.
I did a US government summer program in high school in Washington, DC. Probably not unrelated, I lost my virginity late. During that summer, I spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill. It had great air conditioning to combat the sweltering DC summer heat and humidity. It also had a nifty little subway trolley that connected the Capitol Building to the Senate office buildings on the north side and the House office buildings on the south side. Why would a member walk out the front door of the Capitol, across the street and into the office less than a pitching wedge away when he or she could avoid all human contact by taking the subterranean private subway trolley?
The subway was Representatives and Senators aplenty. I met Paul Wellstone (D-MN), an incredibly lovely guy who I was very sad to see die in that plane crash during his reelection campaign in 2002. I met Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who I felt the need to thank for outlawing smoking on airplanes. Which is a shame. Who doesn’t enjoy breathing smoke-filled recycled air at 35,000 feet for five hours? How was that ever legal?
One day on the Capitol side of the Senate subway, I saw Jesse Helms sitting in the Senators-only car, ready to be whisked the hundred yards back to his Senate office. But the subway car didn’t move. Because it broke. All the plebeians got out and took the walking path. But not Jesse Helms. He stayed planted inside the subway car, angry. Maybe because he was pretty damn old and knew he wouldn’t make it walking back. Or maybe because he thought if he just sat still and did nothing, the subway system might fix itself. Which approach sounds eerily similar to how Congress often tries to solve problems.
I loved the Capitol Building, what it stood for and the power of what those inside of it could do (hopefully in the pursuit of good).
I worked on Capitol Hill during a summer in college. I got into an argument with the Senator for whom I worked. He misstated a fact and I politely corrected him. His response was much less polite, which really drove home his reputation as one of the worst members to work for on Capitol Hill. And he kept insisting that he was correct. But facts are facts, which someone else in the room quickly and conclusively verified. Except on Capitol Hill, where often times, facts are not facts.
Later that summer, I watched Ted Kennedy cut in front of all the Senate interns to get ice cream first at an industry reception. Not much of a surprise as he had never liked to wait his turn.
I went to the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. I spent about five minutes ranting to a portly gentleman on the floor of the Convention about how boring and useless the endless parade of speeches was. His response, “I actually really enjoy the speeches.” Then the person standing next to him said, “This is Governor Mike Huckabee.”
After law school, I decided to run for Congress. I both love and hate the fact that anyone who is at least 25 years old, on any morning, can just wake up and decide to run for Congress. Why did I run? Because I felt strongly that I could do no worse than the people in Washington. And who wouldn’t welcome a knowledgeable, energetic young adult onto the political scene? Well, the local party boss, that’s who. He always smiled when I spoke with him, but that was more likely the result of inebriation than his elation that I was contesting a race against his chosen candidate. I lost the race. He got indicted.
Since my ill-fated run for Congress, and other than having endless discussions about public policy and politics and convincing no one who didn’t already agree with me of my views (although I maintain strongly this is more a result of how deep people dig in politically these days as opposed to my ability to argue and reason), I stayed out of politics. I practiced law, then retired and went into business. I now have an adult job in industry. But the ridiculousness of politics and the characters who define it have only gotten worse, and have gone too far. Yes, everyone always says that. But I think now, with the Republican Party, the party of Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, on the cusp of nominating fox pelt head Trump to run for President of the United States, we rational folk can agree. But everyone always says that too.
Which is why I absolutely had to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Turns out it’s not quite that hard to get all-access credentials…