By Miles Hilder - 06/10/09 07:14 PM EDT
So far? This is my third career here. After being a page, being a staffer and a member of the House and Senate, there’s not much new to learn.
What was the last book you read?
The Reason Why, about the Charge of the Light Brigade.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
First I wanted to be a farmer, then I wanted to be a professional athlete — all the standard things that a boy wants to be. I wanted to be a lawyer and I got my wish there, then the next thing I wished was that I didn’t have to be a lawyer anymore.
What has been your most embarrassing political move?
[Laughs] Offering yourself as a candidate for any office nowadays is an invitation to embarrassment.
Would you say you’ve enjoyed your time in Washington?
Oh, absolutely. There’s an old Depression-era song: “It’s nice work if you can get it.”
If you weren’t yourself, which lawmaker would you want to be?
[Laughs] Which lawmaker would I want to be? Well, who is the youngest? I would want to be the youngest one.
What kind of chores do you like to do around the house to keep yourself busy?
I do a lot of chores. I do my own ironing, vacuuming. And I think it’s important for a public official to mow his own yard.
Who is your favorite lawmaker of the opposite party?
If I tell you [Sen.] Ben CardinBen CardinHow the White House got rolled on the Saudi-9/11 bill Senate Democrat calls on Mexico to step up search for missing students Senators already eyeing changes to 9/11 bill after veto override MORE [D-Md.], then he’s ruined forever in the Democratic Party, and I don’t want that for him. But I do have a particular admiration for him. His wife and my wife are somewhat soul sisters.
Something that shocked you about how Congress operates and how the whole system works?
I remember in 1967 on the floor of the House, some rank-and-file members walking in asking the whip, [the late] Les Arends [R-Ill.], “How do we vote, Les?” And he said, “Vote no unless you like to spend money.” That was the first time I realized that a lot of members head over to the floor without the foggiest idea of the substance of the votes.