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.

"Even members of Congress hate Congress," says an aide. "It's just that they each believe themselves to be the exception to the rule. Congress is not a team with a collective identity. It's a collection of individuals guided almost exclusively by ruthless self-interest."

1. The least among you will get the most attention.

In one sense, "Congress is a microcosm of the country," says former representative Bartlett. "There's going to be 15 to 20 percent who do nothing, 15 to 20 percent who do everything, and the rest in between."

Tom Tancredo had a fear of Monday mornings.
Tom Tancredo had a fear of Monday mornings.
Kay Bailey Hutchison says there's no time off.
Kay Bailey Hutchison says there's no time off.

The problem is that those who do nothing are celebrated the most.

To be a fixture of the green room requires special bombast. You'll need tales of villainy. High-decibel outrage. A prevailing sense of victimhood. If you can't do it with a straight face, forget about making Sean Hannity's guest list.

The same skills apply to courting donors. "One of the ways you raise money is by appearing to be very adamant and unforgiving," says Bob Graham. "The more strident you are, the more likely you are to be successful in the financial returns."

Yet ceaseless shrieking, as you may have guessed, can make you deeply unpopular with colleagues. They may name a post office after your ex-wife.

"A successful member of Congress is not going to talk like Rush Limbaugh, blasting away," says Bartlett. "There are some members who do, but they're not going to be successful. If you're attacking all the time, maybe you incite the crowd, but not many members are going to vote with you."

Yet as Tancredo tells it, a good chunk of Congress is perfectly happy being hostile to success — as long as they can moonlight as TV pundits. You still get the private sauna, the small army of supplicants, and powerful people gathering outside your door, waiting to bathe you in flattery and tribute.

"That was the most aggravating thing, looking around and seeing so many people who just wanted to be in Congress," Tancredo says. "You got your paycheck. You got your perks. What the hell? It's better than driving a cab."

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9 comments
Schitt.C.Rumpney
Schitt.C.Rumpney

congress makes me SICK!   A "public servant" works for us...yet they get the phat checks and tells us we dont get raises!

adorcharm
adorcharm

Oh boo hoo poor pitiful me. Hey your lawmakers so change things for the better. In case you missed it over 10 million people had their homes stolen from them by the zombie banks 2008, and another 90+ million are unemployed due to the policies of this government. Go cry a river sad sacks

MelADavis
MelADavis

Last time I checked, serving an elected office is not a job or a career.  It is an honor, duty, and privilege.  Perhaps this is why Congress is so broken.  

Anse
Anse

I wonder if publicly funding campaigns--getting rid of private donations entirely--might go a long way toward reforming this stuff? 

icemanu
icemanu

As a journalist who's spent more than 20 years covering politics from school boards to international summits, all I can say is this is great stuff and dead-on. One of the first things I ask newbie candidates is if they really want to spend 40 hours a week in committee meetings, another 20 gladhandling at ghastly cocktail parties and another 30 making telephone calls to raise funds. It's also among the less than five articles I can recall that made me feel a bit of sympathy for the likes of Tancredo (I can name plenty of Democrats just as awful, BTW). Not saying I'm overly sympathetic, given all the people working two jobs for low wages in abusive conditions, but it's fair to note even Congress is something of a hellish job requiring more than a cushy three-day week (and you can imagine how much worse it is for the staff).

stevek77536
stevek77536

"Every day you learned more shit about more shit," ... I suspect this should be taken literally, even if not meant that way.  With political "geniuses" like Rove doing the teaching, we end up with what we have, Congressional approval ratings in single digits.  Bile-spewing and (secretive) begging have long since replaced public service.

roguebotanist
roguebotanist

No sympathy for Tancredo or Hutchinson.  Both were around at the height of the Iraq war and were lapdog yes men/women for the GOP powers with no meaningful bills between them. They won't be missed as politicians. 

larrybradley
larrybradley

Don't have time to read the whole thing right now, so I will assume it is a joke, a tongue-in-cheek piece; otherwise, "the most terrible job in the world" sure seems to be one that most people will do anything to hang on to. You not what the REAL worst job in the world is? It is being unemployed when you are able and willing to work, but the economy has been so screwed up by those who don't bother to show up for most of their meetings (aka Congress) that people have given up. Despair over meetings when you make $174k and many thousands, if not millions, more on the side is way different from despair over joblessness. Okay, so maybe it is a tongue-in-cheek piece. If so, thanks anyway for giving me an opening to sound off.

Anse
Anse

@larrybradley I don't know. If you're really idealistic and sincerely want to do the best for your district and your country, this sounds like a pretty awful way to go about it. 

 
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