Washington, DC is not a popular place. Read about the Honest Tea challenge here.
I wrote this some time ago and thought I had published it. As the former Senator from Pennsylvania recently passed away and I never had published it, I am now.
Several lifetimes ago, I worked for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). One thing young staffers get to do is deal with constituents — in person, on the phone and through their always well thought out and researched correspondence. I firmly believe if our founding fathers were to travel in time to now and judged us solely on the people who visit and call their Congressional representatives, we would have a vastly different form of government.
One evening, a very peculiar woman came in. She was convinced that anyone born in California (or Hawaii) could vote in France. She also thought I was 45 years old. I am not even that old now — several lifetimes later — so you can appreciate how well that went over with me. She wasn’t too scary but she liked mu boss and made that clear. What she said on her way out was how much she hated Senator Specter and she was going to give him a piece of her mind (Is it snarky of me to note that this was more than she could afford to give?).
One idea that I cling to, even when I am not sure why, is that people who get involved in politics do so because they care about the country. In that respect, Hill staffers have several things in common; a strong work ethic, long hours, low pay, a hatred of all things related to the Close Up foundation. So, when this woman, made that comment, I called Senator Specter’s office immediately (he was a Republican then.)
Me: Hi this is Alyson from Senator Feinstein’s office. A really freaky woman was just in here and she is headed your way. Just wanted to let you know.
Specter staffer: You do know our senator is a Republican, right?
Me: That doesn’t matter right now. Crazy person, coming to your office any minute.
They took my advice seriously and locked their front door — it was around 6:00 pm so that made some sense. The woman in question shook the glass doors so much that they called the Capitol police.
The next morning, I received 15 pounds of Hershey chocolate of several flavors. The note read; Thanks for yesterday, we would not have done the same for you. WTF? You wouldn’t? Really? REALLY? Guess not.
We need to treat each other better.
No, I am not a member of the Tea Party. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Occam’s Razor could be tattooed on my forehead. I think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and we went to the moon. Anyway, you get the point.
In late 2008, I was working as a freelance writer/PR person. For a very brief period I wrote for a Sunday morning, political round table television show (won’t say which one but the host is super obnoxious and, for once, I am not talking about David Gregory — hint two: it’s also not Chris Matthews, whom I have never met).
In one morning meeting the host told us (there were two writers and the host in the room) what he wanted the theme of the next show to be. They then recanted a tale of political intrigue that defied logic. The then President-elect was planning go go back to Hawaii to retrieve his real birth certificate from Kenya that was cleverly hidden under the left, third drawer of his grandmother’s study (seriously, how would that detail get out?). The host went on to explain the people who had been hired, sometime earlier in the President’s life, to cover up his real birth place and forge a new birth certificate, which is the one that was released.
To me, this story was/is/will forever be, absurd beyond belief. My first reaction was to laugh really hard and I said, “THAT’s the story your’re going with? Really?” I also pointed out how absurd that was. Being really new to writing for TV, this was probably not my best plan and the host’s reaction backed me up on that point. They back peddled a bit and then said, “I didn’t say it was true, I just said people are saying this.” Right. I am not saying he’s a liar, I am just saying other people are.”
In a subsequent conversation, we had a back and forth that went like this:
Host, “You, you are obsessed with Obama!”
Me: “No. No, really, I am not. If anyone has Obama-fatigue, it is me.”
Host: “Obama fatigue, where did you get that?”
Me: “I just said it.”
Host: “I cannot figure you out.”
There would be few more of these pleasant exchanges as soon after, I was informed my services would no longer be needed at the program.
I am not saying I was fired for not supporting this birther nonsense. I am just saying some people are.
(Note: I am a Obama supporter. I voted for him in 2008 and will do so again in 2012. On the morning of the above conversation, I had seen two disturbing pieces of memorabilia — a toilet seat with the First Family on it and some sort of random OTC medication that claimed to be “Obama’s favorite.” My fatigue was more attributable to that than any thoughts I had about the now President.)