Where the Heart Is

Today, the New York Times published a shocking revelation about Republican Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, a man about whom I'm sure you've given barely a moment's thought in the three-plus decades he's been in Washington doing the people's business. Roberts, it seems, doesn't even own a home in the state he is so privileged to serve! Apparently, he's registered to vote at the home of a couple the paper describes as "longtime supporters and donors," where he says he stays when he's in the state, though I would hope that by now they'd be actual friends. I don't know whether it's legal to register to vote at an address where you just crash now and again, but of all the things you might not like about Pat Roberts, this is pretty far down the list. It does, however, show the absurd contradiction we demand from our politicians.

On one hand, we want our members of Congress to work hard, get that nose to the grindstone, represent us there in Washington! On the other hand, we also want them not to spend too much time in Washington, so they stay "in touch" with us. We want them to share our down-home values and care deeply about our every whim. So they can take that knowledge back to Washington. But don't get captured by Washington!

A member of Congress (both Senate and House) makes a salary of $174,000 per year, which is a very nice living. But even on that, it can be hard for many of them to pay for two homes, one in D.C. and one back in their state. And don't forget the cost of travel—many of them go back and forth every week, and if you aren't on the East Coast, that can be both expensive and a real hassle. If you have kids, you're probably going to want them to be with you as much as possible, which means moving them to Washington.

So would Pat Roberts be more in touch with the good heartland people of the Sunflower State if he rented a condo in Topeka instead of staying with some friends who are good enough to put him up? Please. Though I'm sure the Tea Partier who's running against the reliably conservative Roberts in the Republican primary is already preparing the television ads.

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