The most important thing you can do in American politics is appear on TV, anyway, not speak in the chamber (itself TV, but only C-Span, which is hard to watch ’cause it has no commercials). That’s why it was so wonderful, though strange, that I was gonna be on Fox News today.
The Fox brigade wanted to talk about something besides Chris Christie, who they like and hope to protect. So, with all those guys opting out of reelection, they put together a panel of departing reps and new faces to weigh the pluses and minuses of legislating in The Gridlock Age. Then Benghazi reared its Libyan head again and we all got the the shaft so that they could bury Hillary and insulate Christie with the mound of soil displaced in the process.
I wonder how they decided on me. Probably they picked me off a list. No one has before, but I’m a veteran new guy now, so maybe it’s time.
You know, I met Roger Ailes, long before Fox News, when I was just a kid. He even talked about managing me then, said he wasn’t sure if I was a genius or crazy (or something like that), which you could also say about him. I remember lying on my parents’ bed, talking to him on the phone as he breezily recounted how he had once jumped out of a plane and broken pieces of himself during the Nixon campaign, irrespective of the campaign’s need for him and vice versa. I was supposed to like him for that.
I was a little annoyed when Fox gave some of the other guys a limo after the panel was canceled, but not me. I asked retiring reps Jim Matheson and Frank Wolf for a lift but maybe they didn’t hear me, so I had to take the Metro, that crumbling, Washington subway which never ceases to frustrate me. Maybe that’s why I was in a mood when I got back to the Capitol.
On the mall, there was one of those small, scary, right wing protests that always get overcovered in the media, leading to more power for slime-covered mutants than the none they deserve. One of the speakers was droning on about “Democrat this and Democrat senator so and so” in that way GOPers have of refusing to use the name of our party correctly for fear it will imply we’re more democratic than they are (which, of course, we are).
I walked up to the guy and said, “The name of our party is the Democratic party. Our senators are “‘Democratic’ senators and our initiatives are ‘Democratic’ ones. Calling someone a “Democrat senator” has a touch of the epithet about it, as if, when you tell your Klanmates about this, you refer to me as a ‘Jew bastard,’ when, properly, I am a “Jewish bastard’.”
He punched me.
There’s a certain amount of pride, hopefully not a sinful amount, in being the bigger man, in letting things, even some which have weight and meaning, simply run off your back. Not, however, being a prideful man, I called the Capitol cops and sent my attacker to a dank, fungus-ridden cell.
I’m kinda proud of that.
My phone vibrated while I was there amidst the wreckage of the tiny demonstration, rubbing my bruised mouth and savoring the blood taste which lingered, as if from a minimally brutal dental procedure. Fox had developed a hole in their schedule and wondered if I would be willing to immediately return. I said sure, not mentioning the transportation slight, and hopped on the Metro in reverse.
When I got to the studio, none of the other reps were in attendance.
They were, I was told, on their way. But their limos were stuck in traffic.
A makeup man attempted to cover a bruise on my face, but the segment producer insisted there was no time for perfection and I should get to the set. “Are the other panelists here?” I asked, while being pushed toward some chairs.
“Just you,” she said, as a hot light went on above us and commenced to cook me like an Easy-Bake minicake. Gretchen Carlson, the anchor of the hour, asked what I, as a newer member of Congress, made of the tide of departures from the body. I started to answer but she cut me off.
“Forgive me, there’s some breaking news we have to report. A Pew study released today indicates 47% of independent voters would consider Benghazi when deciding…”
It doesn’t matter what she said. It was “Benghazi” again.
“This is breaking news?” I asked a PA, who just shrugged.
“Sorry for the interruption. We were addressing what a new arrival like yourself makes of the decision some lawmakers have made…”
The baking light went out again and I knew what to expect. Every time I was close to answering a question, I got cut off in favor of something else. It wasn’t until the segment was over that I realized what they were up to.
“We’re sorry we weren’t able to interview Congressman Lederer. Then again, he’s yet to speak in the House, so maybe it’s fitting he didn’t get to speak here.”