The latest test for new members of Congress and their cred back home is whether they'll sleep in their offices. How many of these dandies will host pajama parties in their taxpayer-funded suites, instead of simply renting property in Washington?
Congressmen don't spend much time in Washington anymore. Especially since 1994, when incoming Speaker Newt Gingrich urged new members to return to their districts for every single four-day weekend. But most of them at least rent a crappy little studio apartment in town, so as not to be seen naked every morning by the young post-grad working the phones. Some members do brave this threat, though, and the Wall Street Journal estimates that "at least 15%" of incoming members plan to sleep in their congressional offices.
Here's one such citizen-legislator with his little Army compass, trying to show off:
For many of them, a key selling point was not proximity to the House chamber, where they'll vote, but to the House gym, where they'll shower.
Rep.-elect Tim Griffin, an Army reservist, stood near the gym in the Rayburn House Office Building and used some compass software on his phone to navigate the paths to potential offices.
"We want to get as close to Rayburn as possible," Mr. Griffin, an Arkansas Republican, told an aide. "I've got to walk all the way down this hall in the morning."
He settled on a suite in the Longworth building with plenty of space for the six-foot sofa he says will be his bed for the foreseeable future. "I don't want to see you in your bathrobe," Rep.-elect Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), a non-office sleeper, told Mr. Griffin as freshmen rushed about Capitol Hill looking at available offices.
Mr. Griffin plans to fly home to Arkansas and his family after the last vote each week.
Tim Griffin, heroic couch-sleeper, enemy to Washington's entrenched ways. Incredible. Tim Griffin was the RNC's head of opposition research during the 2004 presidential campaign, after which he was one of Alberto Gonzalez's insider hacks for whom various district attorneys around the country were fired to make space. Now he's playing with his war compass in the halls of Congress like he's never been there. C'mon. This is an email he wrote to his White House boss, Karl Rove, in 2007:
Btw my wife is pregnant. We are thinking about naming him karl. Lol.
Tim Griffin has many friends in Washington. He could find somewhere else to sleep, probably.
[Image via AP]