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Secrets of the Senate Revealed

Posted February 12, 2007

My own staff doesn't understand what I do- Senator Arlen Specter, NPR

A conversation between an Elder Senator and an Incoming Freshman

Elder: Congratulations on your election. The traditions of this august body hark back to the original Roman Senate.

Freshman: How do we know that?

Elder: Ted Stevens was a member of the Roman Senate before he moved to Alaska. Carpetbagger. I see you brought your orientation packet. Good. Do you have any questions?

Freshman: Yes. Who's the guy sitting at my desk?

Elder: That's your lobbyist.

Freshman: Don't I ever get to sit there?

Elder: No. You probably think that a Senator's work is to make laws and debate policy.

Freshman: It's not?

Elder: Your first responsibility as Senator is to run for President.

Freshman: But I don't want to be President.

Elder: Everyone wants to be President.

Freshman: I just want to represent the interests of my state.

Elder: Then you should have run for governor. Since you'll eventually run for president, know that you shouldn't ever vote on anything, ever, unless you have to. Also, know your enemies.

Freshman: The Democrats?

Elder: No. A small yet fierce tribe of wolf-men control a buried tunnel system under the building. Keep weapons with you at all times.

Freshman: So the ceremonial cudgel I received after my swearing in isn't exactly ceremonial.

Elder: Are you sure you're ready to know the real work of the Senate?

Freshman: Yes Master. I've done the Sunday morning talk shows. I've met with the lobbyists. My speeches are long-winded and wonkish.

Elder: You know who is President Pro Tem of the Senate?

Freshman: Sure. Vice President Dick Cheney

Elder: And as you learned from your Senator Orientation Packet President Pro Tem is Latin for "Presiding Lord And Master".

Freshman: Sounds a little stuffy.

Elder: Careful! There are spies everywhere. Follow me down the stairs.

Freshman: I can't see with this burlap bag over my head.

Elder: That's why you're on a leash. Okay, we're here. Remove the bag.

Freshman: What is this place?

Elder: It is. . . your destiny. Welcome to the CheneyPlex. You, I, and all other 98 senators toil away for the Vice President.

Freshman: What do I do?

Elder: Today you'll be working in Mr. Cheney's personal Starbucks. If you prove adept at that, we might send you into his intelligence shop where you can fabricate some damning reports on Iran.

Freshman: What about debates? And C-SPAN?

Elder: Your medical checkup was good, correct?

Freshman: Uh, yeah.

Elder: Good. We'll be taking you into Dr. Frist's secret operating room to extract your sacrificial left ventricle. We find that a lower heart rate will better reflect the tone of the chamber for your C-SPAN appearances.



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