The Dumbest Affectation in Congress

There are a lot of stupid things members of Congress do to show the folks back home that though they moved hell and high water to get their jobs in Washington, D.C., they find everything about the place repugnant and despicable, and can't wait to get away. But there are few pieces of posturing more inane than the decision to sleep in your Capitol Hill office as a demonstration that you haven't gone native like all those sellouts with their apartments and closets and bathrooms.

I can see how a newly elected member might decide to sleep in her office while she gets settled and looks for a place. And being in Congress can be financially and logistically taxing, particularly for those who come from the West coast—you have to maintain two homes, and are expected to fly back nearly every weekend to shake hands at the county fair and pose for pictures at the senior center. But in the last few years it's become de rigueur, particularly among Tea Partiers, to make a statement of their contempt for Washington by making their office their home, sleeping on a couch and showering at the House gym—and making sure that everybody hears about it. And now, according to the Wall Street Journal, female Republican members are getting into the act, and I do mean act:

Reps. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington are believed to be the first congresswomen to bunk in their offices, joining the ranks of lawmakers eschewing rent and a commute for an air mattress and showers at one of the congressional gyms. Like their male counterparts, the women are forgoing beds, bathtubs and home-cooked meals primarily to save money and maximize efficiency—and for some, to also make a political point—on the four days a week they generally spend in Washington. All three previously lived in apartments, not always close to the Capitol…

Male lawmakers have been bunking desk-side for decades, a practice that surged after Republicans took control of the House in 1995 and again in 2011, after the tea-party wave. Their ranks now are thought to top about two dozen. Some lawmakers like Reps. Noem and Jenkins also say crashing in the office sends a message to constituents: They don't plan to appear too settled in Washington.

"It was never my goal to come to DC and be comfortable," said Mrs. Noem, a deputy for the new majority whip.

Oh, spare me. If you're doing it because you don't want to get too settled in Washington, then I assume you won't be running for re-election, right? I thought so.

I'll grant that as far as affectations go, this one certainly takes commitment. But how exactly is sleeping in your office supposed to keep you connected with the real America? What's going to make you more "out of touch," getting an apartment so you can have a good night's sleep when you're doing the people's business, or literally never leaving Capitol Hill? Is signing a one-year lease on a studio going to suddenly make you change your views on deficit spending or tax cuts or the next trade deal? If it is, your constituents probably shouldn't have elected you in the first place.  

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