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KITTLE: ‘Dear Lame Duck’: Advice for the unrequited congressman

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By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

An awful lot of people are confused as to just what is meant by a lame duck Congress. It’s like where some fellows worked for you and their work wasn’t satisfactory and you let ‘em out, but after you fired ‘em, you let ‘em stay long enough so they could burn your house down. – Will Rogers

With their days numbered and no love from the people who voted them out, it’s a hard-knock life for the lame duck.

The 112th Congress, which officially and mercifully ended late Thursday morning, boasted 85 “lame ducks” – federal lawmakers who lost their seats in the November election or opted not to run again. These departing public servants had 59 days to do good or ill before their time in office expired. Based on what we’ve seen the past two months, the pendulum generally swung toward ill.

Lowlights included:

  1. A botched fiscal cliff deal that temporarily staves off greater intransigence and divisiveness among our fine elected officials
  2. A badly crafted Hurricane Sandy relief bill proposing billions of dollars on pet projects nowhere near the superstorm’s path of destruction
  3. And complete inaction on a new Farm Bill – although, as usual, the do-as-little-as-humanly-possible Congress did pass along an extension of the old, outdated 2008 Farm Bill, through Sept. 30, 2013.

That’s no lame bird. That duck is dead!

America needs to find ways to keep its lame ducks out of trouble.

There have been some important, meaningful, and at least interesting lame duck sessions through the storied history of our federal government.

On two occasions, in 1800 and 1824, a lame duck House of Representatives selected the president and vice president, settling disputed elections. Ask Andrew Jackson how effective that lame duck was. You’d probably hear some words you thought only possible in gangsta rap lyrics.

A lame duck Senate in December 1954 that censured Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy – and I have here in my hand a list of 67 … a list of Senators who voted to censure Communist-hating old Lonesome Joe.

Proving its people-first reputation, the lame duck House in 1982 agreed to give its members a retroactive pay raise, amid a crippling economic recession.

Sixteen years later, the House’s lame duck session  featured the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, who, it turns out DID HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THAT WOMAN!

Wisconsin, per usual, did not have to hold a lame duck session of the Legislature between the election and the new session, which begins Monday. But there are 26 lame ducks total in the Senate and the Assembly, not including a couple of lawmakers who resigned early, according to a review by the Legislative Reference Bureau. Wisconsin Reporter on Thursday learned state Reps. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, and Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee, have stepped down in recent days.

So what’s a last-chance lawmaker to do? Gorge himself at the trough of the American taxpayer? Sure. Vote for expensive legislation without a morsel of conscience? You bet.

But I propose a more positive use for our unloved departing lawmakers – lame ducks as advice columnists for the lovelorn and life lost.

Here’s a sample:

Dear Lame Duck Senator from the great state of Idaho,

I’ve been dating the same woman for nearly four years. She’s a great gal. We met at a company picnic, both joined the same accounting firm at the same time. But I left the firm six months ago to begin a new career as a spinal fusion surgeon, and, quite frankly, my girlfriend and I just don’t seem to have anything to talk about anymore. Also, I think I’ve fallen in love with my anesthesiologist. I don’t want to hurt the woman I once thought was my life to go after the man I so desperately want in my life. What do I do?

Can you help, Lame Duck Senator?

Sincerely,

Befuddled in Boise

 

Dear Befuddled,

I strongly submit that S.1457, a bill that would allocate $150 million for an all-you-can-eat salad bar in the congressional cafeteria, half-price, name-brand cigarettes for congressional staff, and free porn for life for all senators with at least one term of service, is a proposal that takes care of the people who take care of the people. Now, I will concede the gentleman from Rhode Island’s point that these are difficult times for the average American. But I submit to this august body, should challenging times stymie the great gift that our forefathers brought to this nation: A Congress with an inherent right to salad, dressing, and all the fixins, including puddin’, cigarettes at a reasonable price and as many Seka and Jenna Jameson films as permitted under the laws of free enterprise. Please support S.1457, if not for yourselves, than for our children.

Thank you and God bless America.

Truly,

The Senator from the Great state of Idaho.

In your face, Amy Dickinson.

Please advise the author at mkittle@wisconsinreporter.com. 

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Kittle is a 25-year veteran of radio, newspaper and online journalism. In July 2011, Kittle joined Watchdog.org as bureau chief for Wisconsin Reporter. He has spent much of the past three years covering the seismic political changes taking place in the Badger State. Last year, Kittle joined Watchdog’s national reporting team, covering everything from energy policy to governmental assaults on civil rights. Beyond being published in Wisconsin’s daily newspapers and in multimedia news outlets, Kittle’s work has appeared on Fox News, and in Human Events, Reason Magazine, Newsmax and Town Hall. His special investigation into a politically charged John Doe probe, “Wisconsin’s Secret War,” was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. Kittle has made several appearances on Fox News, including “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. He serves as weekly politics commentator for Lake 96.1 FM in Lake Geneva, and WRJN-AM 1400 in Racine. His resume includes multiple awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, Wisconsin Broadcast Association and other journalism associations. Contact Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org.