Meet the Lawmaker: Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.)

What did you want to be as a kid?
I was interested in politics as a kid. I wanted to be president, but I’ve long ago given up on that goal. It’s not going to happen.

What’s one of the most bizarre things about being a congressman?
People don’t know whether to treat you like the dogcatcher or the president and you never know, until they come up, which one it’ll be. Some of them say, ‘Oh, my goodness, he’s a congressman, he’s like the president.’ And then they’re disappointed when you go get in your Ford Focus wagon and drive off. What I’ve found is that everyone agrees that senators are pretty important. It’s never dogcatcher with them — they’re always somewhere near the president.

Would you consider running again for Senate?
I tried that in 1998 [when Inglis ran against and lost to then-incumbent Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.)], but I love being in the House because I’ve got the best district in the state. See, when I ran for the Senate I had to say, ‘Oh, I love all these other districts,’ but now I can say what is the truth.

What’s the craziest constituent request you’ve received?
There was a guy who told me, ‘My seatbelt hits me wrong. It scratches me on my neck.’ My mind is thinking, ‘Well, maybe he wants some modification of seatbelt standards,’ so I asked if he thought we should look into reworking the standards on seatbelts. He said, ‘No, I just want you to help me figure out what to do about my seatbelt.’ So I asked if he had seen those cushy things that you put on the seatbelt. He said, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea.’ I hope he found himself a cushy device and that it’s no longer irritating his neck.

How many autographs do you sign a year?
I’d say about 100, including pictures and all. Recently I was having a conversation at a restaurant with a mother and her two or three kids and they all asked for autographs. One of my daughters was there, and she was there going, “You’re not worth an autograph, Dad.”

What is something that’s shocked you about how Congress operates?
I was surprised to find out that Republican and Democrat members actually like each other. They just go through the role-play when the lights come on. It’s a little bit like lawyers who argue until their jugular veins pop out of their neck and then they go have lunch together.

Finish this sentence: One thing I cannot tolerate is …
Onions, bell peppers and garlic. They ought to be outlawed. But I would settle for full disclosure on menus, especially when it comes to mashed potatoes. Why would you ruin mashed potatoes by putting garlic in them?

What do you consider to be your biggest political achievement?
Winning in a miracle in 1992 and being able to run my campaign while I had a child at Yale and practiced law full time in 2004.

Are you morally opposed to premarital sex?

It’s not such a great idea. I think intimacy should be deeply connected to marriage.