Saturday, September 1, 2007

Senator Larry Craig's Fallout

In the 90s I worked on a Senate staff. It was a tremendous, reality-based experience that I won't belabor here. My thoughts, over the impending Craig resignation, among other things, go to the junior staff. Junior staffers don't get paid much, so they struggle to get by while doing the work of their Member's bidding which ranges from significant (replying to constituent mail and requests) to embarrassing (picking up your Senator's cloths at the cleaners).

The young, junior staff, tend to live shoe-horned into apartments with four or five other people because the living space is so expensive in the District. The junior staff work ten to fourteen hour days with little recognition. Because of their schedules and poverty, they tend to eat poorly. Many meals are grabbed at evening social affairs thrown by lobbyists where food and drink is free. Juniors haunt these events in search of food, some of which goes into purses and pockets for the next day. It is a somewhat ridiculous life lived for the glory of being close to the power of politics.

To wake up to find that you will soon be jobless because your (now powerless) Senator has been arrested in a gay sex sting in an airport men's room is the final insult, not to mention, shock. Some staffers will stay to transition the next Idaho Senator into office. Their tenure is iffy, at best, as new Senators want their own staff at their side. Some will segue to a barista position at Starbucks, some will luck out and win a position on another Senate staff, some will head back to mom and dad's house to recoup.

There are thousands of these college grads working in Congress. They are the flotsam and jetsam of a Senator's or Congress person's entourage. They are as disposable as paper cups. They are as resilient as Styrofoam peanuts. They will all be fine, but it is a god-awful spot to be put in.

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