The Stupidity of Hating Your Senator for Living Where You've Sent Her to Work


(MSNBC/Morning Joe)

This year, not one, but two, incumbent senators up for re-election have been dogged by the "issue" of the precise location where they rest their heads at the end of a weary day of lawmaking. First it was Republican Pat Roberts, who, we learned in February, lists the home of some friends as his official residence in Kansas; apparently he crashes there when he's in the state. And now it's Democrat Mary Landrieu, whose heretofore unimpeachable Louisiana roots (her father Moon was the mayor of New Orleans in the 1970s, and her brother Mitch holds that office today) are now being questioned. It seems that although Landrieu owns a home in Washington, she's registered to vote in the New Orleans house she grew up in, where her parents still reside (even though it's technically owned by Mary and her eight siblings, all of whose names begin with "M"—make of that what you will).

The opposition researchers have certainly been earning their keep. But should the rest of us care? The easy answer is, of course not; this is the kind of inane faux-controversy that consumes campaigns, where one side pretends to take umbrage at something with no importance, then the press pretends it means something because a candidate is "on the defensive." But as far as phony issues go, this one is actually revealing—not because of anything it says about the senators, but because of what it says about the often absurd and contradictory expectations we have of our representatives. We berate them for being lazy and not getting enough done, but at the same time, we get mad if they spend too much time in the place where they're supposed to be working.

At the heart of it is the idea that Washington is a horrid, despicable place, full of corruptions large and small. We may send our politicians there, but it's sort of in the spirit of Frodo heading to Mordor: we're glad you went, there being a job to do and all, but if you start to get comfortable we assume you've joined up with Sauron's army. Even if you've been there for eighteen years, as Landrieu has, you'd better not buy a house to live in, because that'll show you've gone native. In other words: We sent you there, and we keep sending you back, but you'd better not like it. So here's an ad from the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity, a Washington-area interest group staffed by Washington operatives, saying: "Tell Mary Landrieu: Enough Washington!"



I guess we're supposed to expect that the people we elect to Congress should arrive in Washington, shake their fist at the Capitol building without deigning to contaminate themselves by setting foot inside, then head straight back to the airport to return home, where all true virtue and common sense reside.

And that's the flip side of the "gone Washington" attack: that the home state or district, in whichever corner of this great nation it happens to be, is the most spectacular, most special, most heavenly place to be found on this earth. The people there are the most hard-working, kindest, and wisest you'll meet anywhere. The vistas are more pleasing to the eye, the food more glorious upon the tongue, the very air the locals breathe a sweet elixir of goodness and joy. If you want to leave even for a minute, you must be some kind of monster.

But here's the thing: As long as we're going to have a republic in which the seats in our legislature are apportioned geographically, and until we have a full telepresence-based system where all members of Congress appear in the Capitol only in holographic form, our lawmakers are going to have to leave the places they represent and go to Washington in order to do their jobs. And to do those jobs well, it isn't enough simply to hold on to your homespun values and be guided by the warm light of the people's faith in you. It also requires things like understanding how laws work, learning about government's strengths and weaknesses, and grasping the interplay of the various interests that inhabit Washington so you can build coalitions to accomplish important goals.

That doesn't mean it's impossible to grow "out of touch" with the place you hail from and stop knowing or caring enough about the folks back home, because it certainly is. But the things that make for an effective legislator are often invisible to the folks back home, at least until the end of a lengthy process that produces important legislation for which you can take deserved credit (or undeserved credit, something of which members have been know to avail themselves). If you go on TV and proclaim your hatred of Washington and your love of "[insert your home state here] values," they might see that and conclude that you're still one of them. But actually doing the things that could improve their lives? That'll usually go unnoticed.

As it happens, Mary Landrieu is trying to convince Louisiana voters that her actual work in the Senate could be of some benefit to them, mostly because she's chair of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and will thus keep that sweet crude flowing (and for some reason, her ads tend to involve guys walking determinedly toward the camera—see here or here). Her argument is that political power is actually something that can be wielded in Washington to beneficial ends for her home state.

In order to do that, of course, you have to actually be there, amidst the lawyers and lobbyists and moral rot of the nation's capital. But somebody's got to do it.


So now the folks of LA are STUPID because they expect their left wing, Obama supporting Senator to act like she still represents Louisiana, and not Washington DC? They are stupid that they expect her to follow Louisiana law that actually requires a candidate for the Senate from LA to have a residence in LA. Folk....Obama, Landrieu, and liberals in General think that anyone that chooses to live in Louisiana is some kind of Southern or Cajun hick that needs to let your better is Washington DC run your lives. As for the energy committee? Who runs energy policy folks? Because Landrieu is in the Senate, the democrats control the Senate, and energy policy is run by Obama and Harry Reid. Not Sen Landrieu. Of course Obama and the democrats don't want you to know that, and they think you are too stupid to figure it out. If Landrieu loses folks she ain't coming back to Louisiana to live with ya'll. She's going to stay in DC and be a left wing lobbyist. You can bank on that!

Landrieu is "left wing"??? Wooahh! In what wing-nut world? The folks in Louisiana aren't stupid, because they've sent this centrist, very effective woman to the senate for quite a while. But you obviously have that issue, on evidence of your childish stereotypes. Further evidence of the need for a reality check - apparently you think energy policy in this country is controlled by President Obama, in a conspiracy with Harry Reid. That's, literally, a crazy assertion.

Since she became head of the committee how many hearings has she held on Keystone or EPA energy regulations (0)? . Has she submitted legislation to overturn EPA energy regulation? No. She's not running energy policy. Obama and Reid are.

That's "control of energy policy"? GOPers are even stupider than I thought. So you are a fanatic for carbon energy expansion - probably a climate change denier as well. Go crawl back in your hole. Even Nixon wasn't as retrograde and corrupt as the current con artists. By the way, your boy Cantor just got his pay day!

Landrieu is "left wing"??? Wooahh! In what wing-nut world? The folks in Louisiana aren't stupid, because they've sent this centrist, very effective woman to the senate for quite a while. But you obviously have that issue, on evidence of your childish stereotypes. Further evidence of the need for a reality check - apparently you think energy policy in this country is controlled by President Obama, in a conspiracy with Harry Reid. That's, literally, a crazy assertion.

Voters electing someone who isn't living under the laws they're writing is what's truly stupid.

If she can afford a $2.5 Million home in DC, she could afford to keep her primary residence in the place where she solicits votes, especially since the Senate has more than half a year off from work.

It would be fine for her to stay in DC all the time if she was doing what the people in her state wanted. But what has she done? Gas prices are still way higher than they should be (it was $1.86 per gallon when Bush left office). There is still a moratorium on some drilling in the Gulf. The Keystone pipeline has still not been approved. And she is the head of the Energy committee. Maybe she should go home more so she can hear what the people in her state want, instead of only listening to lobbyists and Obama and Reid.

So high sulfur crude coming to Texas ports for exporting to foreign countries is your idea of lowering gas prices? Your naivety about Keystone would be astounding if your were from any other place except Louisiana.

The point is not that Landrieu lives in DC when she is at work there, but rather than she moved out of LA entirely.

I have met at least two dozen congressmen, knowing four or five personally, and a few senators. Regardless of party, every congressman introduces himself, says hello, one even patted me on the back (and I REALLY disagree with his policies, but he is friendly and would be ok to have over for a backyard bbq). With congressmen, it is always about trying to get home.

Senators are all together different. Sometime in their second term, they become prima donas who don't have time for the "little people" like their constituents. At some point, they forget the people they represent. Landrieu is one of the worst. She represented Louisiana when she was first elected, but now she represents "the party", with only the occasional recollection that her state is in the oil business.

Throw her out.

The term "carpet bagger" is probably the oldest American expression of contempt for a politician. It matters not a bit what Mr. Waldman thinks, but American voters everywhere and for as a long as the republic has existed have cared very much that their elected officials live where they say they live, and are one of their own. Mary Landrieu may survive the widespread revelation of her actual "residency" status, but its going to take a toll.

You'd think that as a lawyer she'd read the requirement of residency and purchase a studio condo in the state.......but NOOOOOOOO.

She's a Demofascist. The laws don't apply to her.


You just're a loon.

Obama's next two years are really gonna suck for him when he looses his last line of defense........his JACKASS-controlled Senate.

Little socialist lib progtards are going to be in O'BoBo's agenda is completely wrecked.

The problem with Mary is not that she lives in Washington. The problem is that she is so ineffective while there. I cannot recall a single positive thing she did for her state. All she has done is funnel federal money to her political cronies and act as a mouthpiece for Obama. In my opinion "Moon" Landrieu was a crooked politician and the apple did not fall far from the tree.1

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