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Friday, August 9, 2013

Congressional Vacation?

Former Hill aide Mike Johnson writes about the perennial "Congress on Vacation" story.
Fox, however, has lowered the bar even more. It just spent a lot of money conducting survey research, which Hemmer reported on August 8. Breaking news, breaking news, stop the presses: “A new Fox news national poll has found that 82 percent of voters think Congress hasn’t worked hard enough to go on vacation for five weeks.”

As those who work or worked on the Hill do know, most members of Congress take little vacation. They go back to their states and districts and work their asses off for most or all of the break from congressional sessions in Washington. They visit nursing homes, fire stations, union halls, and the VFW. They host town hall meetings, give speeches, walk the streets, stop at grain mills, and appliance factories. They attend church picnics, county fairs, grand openings, and Rotary clubs and most of all hold meetings with constituents, all kinds of them on all different issues in all different settings. And, of course, they talk to the local press. They do news conferences, interviews, editorial boards, and photo ops. Vacation? The press is no vacation.

The penchant of the press to pick on politicians in August is widespread and old hat, and consistent with their role as agitator, exaggerator, and exasperator.

It’s no big deal. But, ya know, it just makes matters worse, giving the public another bogus reason to be angry at their public servants when they have plenty of legitimate reasons to be. It makes life, politics, and governance all that more difficult.