15 March 2010

The Tale of Two Senators

I sometimes post about events and people to give you the texture of my life as a member of the media, so here is another of those offerings. I have deleted names to protect the innocent, er, the Senators involved. But these are true-life stories from the last several weeks.

Life in Washington: a place where you run into U.S. Senators and Representatives in warehouse stores and street corners.
I went to a Washington Metro-area warehouse store on Friday afternoon. As I was walking towards the finish line (where those oh-yes-so-lengthy lines awaited) I saw a familiar face. It was someone I've talked to before: a U.S. Senator who represents a state where a television station is located that I represented in the past. (That doesn't narrow it down, does it? Which media group includes TV stations in the Senator's state: Hearst, Conus or ABC News?)
Back to the Senator. This sighting was sort of like catching Superman out, shopping for new tights. Except that it was a U.S. Senator, buying paper towels and potato chips. In bulk.
This particular Senator is known for being very good natured and open. I interviewed the Senator several times in the past, so I said hello. The Senator was true to form: friendly, easy-going and open. No, those 4 gallons of milk in the cart weren't slowing the Member at all. (I don't remember much about the Senator's purchases because Warehouse Club Cart Snooping is the Washington equivalent of dumpster diving in Los Angeles. And I'm. NOT.)
We discussed the current fracas in Washington because only a few minutes before, I had written the previous blog noting how very dependent on public opinion many votes are. The Senator agreed and in fact, commented on the overwhelming prospect of understanding everything involved in the literary masterpiece of legislative work known as "Health Care Reform." (There are two: the Senate version and the House version. Enjoy!)
The Senator faces a tough race right now, and didn't want to be mentioned further... which is why you're getting only that "Senators do shop in warehouse clubs" so far in this blog, but very little more. I only influence races by reporting facts. In this case, it might be easy, but no. No.
We talked for another minute or two in line. I mentioned that a few weeks before, an old friend arrived in Washington with her (relatively) newly-elected Congressional Member husband. She and I went out for drinks and then drove over to Capitol Hill to pick up her newly-minted-Member in my (tiny but American-made) Ford Focus.
I've often thought that Congress is one of the least exclusive clubs in Washington. It's a huge, smelly, sprawling (mostly male) club of argumentative knuckle-crackers who all want their own way. It just is.
So here was this Member, on the phone when he got in my car, but trying to be nice. He folded his (rather tall) frame into the front seat (wifey happily climbed in the back seat and perched on the presidential library souvenir pillow) where he politely stuck out his hand, and did his best to greet me while finishing up the last details of his day job, working for The People.
When he got off the phone a few minutes later, he re-introduced himself and stuck out his hand again. I sorta... liked him. He seemed, I don't know, genuine? (I didn't like it when the Senior Senator from my home state hugged me on the White House lawn a few years back, but this seemed like the right maneuver.)
And then I drove them to their quarters. In my Ford Focus.
Why am I telling you all this? Just to remind you, while you're watching all the squabbling over health care reform that these are people who go to Sam's Club before weekends with teenage sons. These are people who ride without complaint in their wife's friend's messy little economy car with stains on the upholstery from too many cross-country drives. But mostly, to remind you that... these are people.
I feel a "People are Candy" coming on. See you back here at midweek.

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