What an amazing session. To watch and listen to the 10+ hour session and the debates, one could have a sense of how truly difficult it is for a bill to pass – much less anything as important, historic or intelligible. It is no wonder that it took more than one hundred years to pass a health care bill that will have such dramatic and direct impact on every American’s* life.
While the celebrity stars of the drama will get the appreciation (or vitriol) of the political junkies and news and opinion readers, I believe it is time to acknowledge those who do not – those long-suffering, unsung Congresspeople, so often scorned, forgotten and reelected.
It is truly amazing what they do for their measly $174,000 salary. To work so many late nights, Saturdays and Sundays. To endure the long hours of stifling boredom and suffer the almost unending pedantic speeches of their opponents waiting patiently for their yielded seconds in the spotlight to utter these memorable words, “I ask for unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks in support (or opposition) to this flawed health bill” – strategically determining as they read the request whether to embellish it and have their side charged with a five-second penalty.**
Enduring the uncomfortable shoes and suits of the dress code, our elected leaders are always ready to gadfly their dear friends across the aisle, or rise to express their moral indignation (with hope it can be used in a future campaign spot) using the lexicon of today’s talking points in support or against whatever rule, motion or point of order – never forgetting to mention a poignant email or lesson learned from devoutly humble (Christian, hard working, common sense, heroic, victim, or folk wise) role models, which they hope will make them seem almost human and somehow connected to what is important to actual or imagined people, living or dead.
How they can even stand up under the extra weight of the devil of ready contributors representing special interests on one shoulder and the angel of protecting our democracy and representing what is best for the people on the other, is beyond my capacity to understand. I am humbled and grateful for the enormous weight of responsibility they bear for our country and those who pay for their campaigns.
To stay awake, seem sober, and maintain electable posture while not confusing the moments when they are to smile and the moments they are to seem serious (anyone remember when Lindsay Graham inadvertently clapped for President Obama during the State of the Union?); to sound thoughtful when parroting sound bites or attempting to clarify a complex issue for which they don’t have a clue what the question was about because it wasn’t in their prep; and stay cognizant of the momental seriousness of what is really going on, while never laughing inappropriately, relishing a moment of undeserved triumph unless on Fox or drawing attention to an opponents personal faux pas – they are special, no wonder so few would be up for their job.
To play their role in an unrehearsed stage drama recorded for history, always hitting their mark, in character, and delivering their lines with proper inflection while an aide is feeding the next words and names into their ear, a person of authority above them is threatening the gavel, and their fellow cast members forming a distracting queue for the next scene. Always ready to make a parliamentary inquiry into the arcane process in the archaic language to buy time or cover a false step.
They are amazing. No wonder America is so great. No wonder our founding fathers are so revered for designing this system. Speaking as one of their bastard spawn, I’d just like to say, thank you. You have made my life seem so sane and exciting compared to what you do for me.
Why do they do it for only $174,000? Must be the benefits. That, and I’m I just guessing, there are no other jobs that reward such talent.
*There are 10-20 million people currently living in the United States who will not be impacted by this legislation – those who are here illegally or without documentation. You might recognize them in the emergency room during your next visit. This law codifies that these people (that includes their innocent children) who share our genome, our neighborhoods, our schools, our places of worship and our workplaces, will not be allowed to buy into insurance pools and have no right to affordable care while in the United States.
**By uttering these words, they are allowed to submit whatever they want to have said, should they have had the occasion to speak, into the official Congressional record. Should they add a word or two, such as “government takeover,” “baby-killing,” or “he’s not a citizen,” the extra time will be subtracted from their parties alloted debate time.