Washington, D.C. interns — in particular, congressional interns — tend to be embryonic versions of the monsters they serve: rich, white, and drunk on even the tiniest modicum of actual power. How do they get that way? In part by carefully attending to the advice contained in the “2013 Intern Manual” distributed to the unpaid peons of House Speaker John Boehner, the 12-term Republican who superintends the lower chamber’s extreme right wing. Left behind at a recent D.C. house party by a sauced Hill staffer, the manual shows how even the lowest employees lubricate the capital’s gilded political machine.
The 80-page handbook starts off boringly enough, describing the tribal appeal of “Boehnerland” (“Keep in mind, ‘No one ever leaves Boehnerland!’”); explaining that Boehner’s staff members like to call their boss “JAB”; and misattributing a well-known Alex Trebek quote to Boehner.
Later on, interns are apprised of precisely which media organs they should keeps tabs on, and why. Fox News Channel: “A lot of our phone callers react to what is on FOX, so stay updated with current events.” Politico’s PLAYBOOK: “It give [sic] the best rundown of day’s [sic] driving issues.” CNN: “Good site to read throughout the day.”
The manual’s “RULES FOR INTERN SUCCESS” includes helpful pointers like “Don’t talk to the press” and “You are not here to change the world”:
Among the various duties of Boehner interns — sorting mail, manning the office phone, feeding the Xerox machine — the most prestigious is leading tours of the Speaker’s office, which is closed to the general public but wide, wide open to members of D.C.’s elite. In perhaps the most telling passage of the entire manual, interns are instructed how to explain the significance of a plush, wind-up toy monkey placed in the center of Boehner’s personal chamber:
- People will often ask about the monkey sitting in the center of the room.
- Was given to the Speaker as a birthday gift after the joke was made that [Boehner] was just wound up like a doll by his political advisors every night and he would proceed to clap his hands only to have his advisors wind him up again the next day.
- Shows his sense of humor
(The “joke,” of course, is not a joke at all: Boehner acts at the behest of the GOP’s most intransigent faction, which vacillates between completely controlling him and accusing him of ideological treason. He is the monkey; the monkey is him.)
In an email to Gawker, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck clarifies:
Ah yes. The Speaker can drop a self-deprecating line with the best them — so well that he inspired a gag gift from his press staff, which is always bugging him for one more thing. It was a light-hearted token of appreciation for putting up with us.
The entire manual is embedded below. Get reading.
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