Monday, January 28, 2008

Look At Me Too!

People More Obsessed Than I

Politico has an article about Congressional squatters or as they would be called in my group of friends “media whores”

Squatters aim for presidential face time

As the State of the Union address loomed last week, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen began to think about her strategy.

On Monday, the Florida Republican would meet with constituents in Miami in the morning, then hop a flight to Washington, race over to the Capitol, prance down the halls, fly through the doors of the House chamber, elbow her way past like-minded colleagues and plant herself in an aisle seat, preferably in the center. There would be no time for small talk.

Ros-Lehtinen would then sit in the chamber for the rest of the day and wait for that priceless moment to come when President Bush would walk down the center aisle, give her a small embrace—and maybe even his classic wink—and the television networks would capture it all.


When you tune in to tonight’s State of the Union address and you see Ros-Lehtinen, a petite blonde woman in a lipstick-red jacket on the aisle, it won’t be a coincidence.

Ros-Lehtinen is a self-described State of the Union day squatter, meaning she camps out in the House chamber for at least five hours—and sometimes as much as seven hours—the day of the speech.

For the past seven years, she has made it a point to score a sacred aisle seat so her constituents, friends and family can see her whisper into the president’s ear before he addresses the nation.

Ros-Lehtinen isn’t the only one who will be arriving fashionably early—and it’s a bipartisan group.

Other aisle seat stalkers include Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), Todd R. Platts (R-Pa.), Jean Schmidt ( R-Ohio), Mary Bono (R-Calif.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and a handful of others.

Bachmann, you may recall, drew headlines last year after she kept her hand on Bush’s shoulder for a record 30 seconds and then reached in for a smooch.

And two years ago, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) also became a target of late-night punch lines when he and Bush had a similar lovey-dovey moment.

“On the way in, I always like to wish the president luck or I say 'Go get ‘em,'” Capito said. “On the way out, it’s always, ‘Great speech.’”

“Being there, in that place, on that night,” Ros-Lehtinen echoed. “It’s just thrilling.”

The day of waiting, however, is not, the congresswomen said.

Ros-Lehtinen said she’ll bring a “mountain of paperwork” to the chamber to kill time.

She said she will spend the remaining hours chatting up members across the aisle and talking on the phone, which is allowed because the House won’t be in session.

“It’s time well used,” she said, adding that other members do crossword puzzles or read the newspaper. “And it’s great for networking.”

Capito said she’ll spend the time getting a jump on the week’s work, reading legislation and signing paperwork.

If Capito has to walk away, she’ll leave the stack of paperwork on her seat, a signal to her colleagues that someone has already reserved that spot—or if she has to go far or use the facilities, she has Ros-Lehtinen hold her place for her.

“She watches my back and I watch hers,” Ros-Lehtinen confirmed.

But being on the aisle only goes so far. One must stand out in a room of black, steel gray and navy blue, the lawmakers said.

Capito says she plans to wear something colorful —“absolutely no black”—for the occasion so her constituents can easily pick her out.

“They do notice,” she said. “They always say they saw me.”

Ros-Lehtinen, Capito and others said the secret to scoring an aisle seat comes down to one thing; “timing.”

But if Ros-Lehtinen’s flight is delayed and she has to be feet — not inches— away from the president, the congresswoman said she won’t be disappointed.

“I just saw the president [on Tuesday] to discuss his economic stimulus package,” she said. “I already had my face time with him this week so it won’t be the end of the world.”

And since these members of Congress are so eager to have their face out there go (and I feel that a lot of them do google vanity searches), here you go
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

[Update- Apparently that's a picture of Rep. Ros- Lehtinen's COS, the following is her actual photo; sorry. Thanks to a commenter for pointing that out

and to further make amends here's a picture of her that I originally saw and liked but for some reason decided not to use

Sheila Jackson Lee (I actually like Sheila, but whatevs)

Shelley Moore Capito

Eliot L. Engel

Todd R. Platts

Jean Schmidt

Mary Bono

Michele Bachmann

It really is like the Oscars and the Super Bowl for politicians.

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1 comment:

CS said...

I'd just like to point out that your photograph of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is incorrect. I've worked for her in the past and that's actually a photograph of her district chief of staff, Debra Zimmerman.

This is the Congresswoman: