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[February 11, 2013]
OPINION: Randy Foster: Setting differences aside
Feb 11, 2013 (Sun Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- When you work in Washington D.C., it's easy to get lost among so many Type A personalities, so any mention in the media is good. Walter B. Jones, the Republican who represents much of Eastern North Carolina in Congress, has made national headlines a number of times, from his standing up for Freedom Fries to his opposition to wars.
Now Jones has his picture in a New Republic article by Marin Cogan headlined, "They All Look the Same! A Hill reporter's guide to D.C.'s most indistinguishable politicians." The premise of the article is that with all the lawmakers in Washington, many of them look alike, some so much they look like twins.
Among the Beltway doppelgangers listed are Jones, who Cogan described as an "eccentric libertarian," and Robert Latta, R-Ohio, who was described as being from Ohio.
Cogan, described variously around the internet as a contributing writer for GQ and "GQ's political correspondent," describes herself as possibly "the world's worst congressional reporter" following a couple of cases when she misidentified members of Congress. But she said she's not alone.
"Nearly every reporter I got to know in my two years covering the Capitol has some cringe-worthy story of confusing the identity of a member of Congress," Cogan wrote.
"House administration is aware of how difficult distinguishing the 435 mostly white, mostly male members of the House can be (not to mention the overwhelmingly homogenous Senate), so at the beginning of each Congress they print a sort of yearbook containing the photo and basic biographical information of each member of Congress. But members often don't update their official portraits, and after many terms, as their jowls sink, guts expand and temples go white, they begin to look nothing like their official portraits." Speaking of Congress, have you been watching "House of Cards" on Netflix Kevin Spacey plays a Democrat congressman from South Carolina and House Majority Whip. In the first episode, his character is denied an appointment to be secretary of state by the newly elected president whom Spacey's character helped get elected. Spacey is out for revenge and hilarity ensues.
"House of Cards" does for Congress what "Breaking Bad" does for the methamphetamine industry -- it provides a seemingly realistic glimpse inside the inner workings of things previously hidden, leaving viewers both entertained and appalled.
The plot lines are "ripped from the headlines," as they used to say. As Spacey's character maneuvers to avenge his slight by the White House, he tosses to the dogs of BRAC a Navy shipyard in Pennsylvania -- along with the congressman who represents that district -- in order to save another military facility that will gain him a political ally.
Surely such pettiness can't exist among our elected leaders. Oh wait, what was I thinking Congress' fulltime job is to come up with laws to fix problems that were created by Congress, using a series of plugs and stitches and acts of revenge. What could go wrong Sarah, Mark and I were all home sick Thursday. Mark was in the living room watching "SpongeBob SquarePants" while Sarah and I caught episode 5 of "House of Cards" (all 13 episodes are available). When episode 5 ended and the iPad on which we watched it went silent, all I could hear was "SpongeBob" in the distance and 7-year-old Mark giggling. Such innocence, I thought. Beauty does exist in the world.
But not in Washington. Except Congressmen Jones and Latta, who are an attractive pair.
Thanks for letting me take up some of your Sunday morning.
Randy Foster is managing editor of the Sun Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 635-5663. Follow him on Twitter @NBSJEditor for Sun Journal-related tweets, or @rivereditor to follow other things that interest him.
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