Saturday, August 9, 2008

Nowhere Man

My apologies for not posting for awhile; I've been on vacation with the fam for the past week. For those who have been waiting, here are the highlights from my final week in the District:

The Senate Republicans had their weekly policy lunch at our building on Tuesday, with one special guest present…Vice President Dick Cheney. With someone like that coming, our building went into total chaos with Secret Service agents standing at every corner and searching every crack and the building going under total lockdown. Craziness. We all stopped working to see his motorcade arrive with multiple limos and, my personal favorite, a few converted SUVs loaded with armed Secret Service snipers with their guns pointed out. It was a pretty sweet sight. We also looked to see which Senators were arriving…typical celebrity stalking. The day got even more exciting when, just as the Senators were arriving and getting ready to start their meeting, breaking news came over all the major networks that Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska (yes, a Republican) was being indicted on corruption charges. Making things interesting for us, Senator Stevens was sitting two floors below us, with every other GOP Senator and the Vice President. Oops. As this unfolded the media converged upon our building. Looking out of our window we saw a CNN truck pull up, a multitude of reporters and cameramen setting up. It was intense. We may or may not have ended up on camera. Every time someone left the building this media heard swarmed upon them. It was a sight to be seen. Tuesday an exciting day for us.

On Wednesday a bunch of us interns had lunch with the Executive Director of the NRSC t in the Senate Dining Room in the Capitol Building. A little "thank you" for being sweet interns (and for making a lot of phone-bank calls). It was sweet. This dining room is reserved for Senators and Chiefs of Staff so getting a chance to go in is a pretty big deal. We got to ride on the underground Senate tram too. We go in, sit down, and look around to see Senators sitting everywhere! I’m pretty sure John Glenn was sitting at the table next to ours. The food was pretty good, but obviously the experience of being in a room with big power brokers is why you go. Would not mind doing that again.

Norm Coleman has added some more points to his baller rating. Tuesday, while I was phone banking, I got a caller who started asking about the Senator’s position on Genetically Modified Organisms of all things. Since this isn’t something I know off the top of my head (shocking, right?), I stall as I pull up Google to try to find anything the Senator has said about this. As I’m stalling, Senator Coleman walks out of a call suite and into our room! I look at him and am like “SENATOR! What’s your position on GMO’s?” He looked at me confused, to which I respond, “This caller wants to know…do you want to talk to him?” At which point the Senator came up to me, took my headset, and proceeded to talk to this caller about GMO’s for about ten minutes. Not many people, let alone Senators, would ever do that, to which Senator Coleman scores some major points in my book.

The next day, after our lunch in the Senate Dining Room, Team Coleman had a pizza party with Coleman’s Campaign Manager. We spent some time talking to him about campaigning, and life in politics, then Senator Coleman came, thanked us, and talked with us for a bit. Real cool, down-to-earth guy; I’m definitely applying to work at his office next summer. Funny story about his campaign manager: When we first met him he goes “I hear there’s a Wolverine here…,” to which I enthusiastically owned up to, and he goes, “I love Michigan! GO BLUE!” Nice to know about our fan base outside of Michigan! (He knew about me through his political director, whom we talk to each week. The first time she heard I was from Michigan, she told me she was from that “state” south of us. We went at it for a bit. The Campaign Manager helped me trash her when he came.)

On Thursday I raised money for the NRSC for the first time! I convinced a donor to contribute $4000 to us. It was magical. I also met Ted Stevens that day. He was on our floor eating ice cream. He looked like a cute, innocent, old man. Of course, this was only hours after he was in court being arraigned on his charges. I saw him and, naturally, shook his hand. Chalk that up to twenty-six Senators!

My last day at the NRSC was pretty laid back. Paul, my mentor, set me up for a picture with Senator Chuck Hagel, which was really cool. He’s a real nice guy and we talked for few minutes about football and public service. It’s sad to see him retire from the Senate, he’s a good guy. Afterwards my boss got me this donut cake (pretty much a really big donut) to celebrate my last day. She wanted the cake to say “Good Luck,” but, the Vietnamese woman who did the writing wrote “Luck Good” instead… Just a minor mistake… Later that day, we found out that the Republicans in the House of Representatives had taken control of the Chamber (the House just begun its five week recess). These Congressmen were staging a protest against high gas prices and were demanding that Congress reconvene to have a vote on oil drilling and gas prices. Because Congress wasn’t in session anymore, no one else was in the chamber so they started bringing staffers, tourists, whomever they could find to the Floor of the House and the Visitor’s Gallery to hear them speak! Seizing this chance to see this craziness unfold, a bunch of us ran over to the House to sit in the gallery to see this tomfoolery go down. The gallery was packed, then one of the Congressmen was looked towards the crowd and said, “They’re closing the Galleries at 4:30, but this is the People’s House! Why don’t you people sitting in the Galleries come down and sit on the Floor with us!” So we ran down and got a chance to sit on the Floor of the House of Representatives! UNREAL! Granted, this was all political theatre and won’t result in anything, but being able to sit on the Floor is sweet. We ended the day with a singing of “God Bless America” and chants of “USA! USA! USA!” It was sweet. I went back to the office and tried to work, but after an experience like that, it’s hard to get motivated to work again. And that was how my internship/experience in Washington D.C. came to an end.

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