By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
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.
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.
Sorry...Not going to pull at any heartstrings here or get any sympathy from the American people on this one (you know - those people who elected you and whom you claim to represent). I really hope it's the worst place to work in the country because it's painful to watch how little you actually care or know about your constituents. Just waiting out these career politicians lives at this point.
This article is nonsense.
If the job were so bad, why does almost everyone who gets elected run again for term after them after term, 5, 10, 15 terms, and more.
This is totally against what our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the constitution.
From everything I have ever read about it, they intended the common person to take leave of their job and run run for an office, serve for a short while, and then return to their previous life. Common man or woman, knowing what things are like, knowing what needs to be done, representing common man or woman.
Career politicians are so out of touch with most peoples everyday lives and needs it is beyond belief.
Just think how much greater our great country would be today if only one single line more would have been added to the constitution: "Single Term Limits For All Elected Officials".
uhhhhh more like the best job in america! Do you guys have any clue about this, you buy into the soundbites about their awful jobs
US congressman is pure luxury... paid exotic trips, 10/10 women at your whim, POWER
the finest foods and accommodations, respect from everyone
read a fucking book, US congressman is best job short of being a senator
oooo meetings... ooooooo
Hey, your next article should be about how much more difficult it is to be a billionaire because of all the bank accounts you have to keep track of.
Getting paid a six figure salary to sit on your butt and do nothing? I'll take that job in a heart beat!
Wait, is this really congresspeople telling the rest of us not to run, because, we totally wouldn't like it anyway?