#WTHill: Open Mouth, Insert Foot


Two things every Congressional staffer has done during their career: Drink at the Capitol Lounge and play in the Congressional softball league. Think of them as rites of passage.

The Missouri delegation met every Tuesday in “our” corner; it just so happens that it was also 10-cent wing night. Purely a coincidence…

There I was one Tuesday, out way longer than I should have been and feeling on top of the world (read young and stupid). I randomly start a conversation with a guy who meandered into the Missouri corner. In my judgy, 20-something voice I ask, “Why are you still in a coat and tie?” followed by the very important question of, “What do you do?” certain that he can’t be more important than me.

Ron Burgundy
Courtesy of gif-central.blogspot.com

In a very matter-of-fact voice, he responds, “I’m a member of Congress.”

Seinfeld
Courtesy of http://momandpopgifs.tumblr.com

Do I believe him and his “staff” at the bar? I mean, who brings an entourage—made up of your staff, by the way—to the Cap Lounge?!?! Turns out he WAS and IS a member of Congress, and from my home state of Missouri to boot! I recall trying to smooth things over by informing him that I’m from St. Louis and I don’t really pay that much attention to “our state Missouri.”

Yep, I said that.

House of Cards
Courtesy of Netlfix

I was fortunate to have an understanding Legislative Director who made light of the situation to the Congressman and laughed it off. The unnamed legislator and I now have a great relationship and I know his staff well.

I wouldn’t recommend the “open mouth, insert foot-method” of building a relationship and certainly not what we at NAA mean when we ask you to get to know your elected officials and build your political capital.

Relationships take work, continually reaching out and interacting with your elected officials year-round. Meeting with your member of Congress in D.C. is just one aspect of this relationship. NAA benefits just as much as you do when you interact with your legislators through a phone call, writing a letter or op-ed, participating in a call-to-action or giving a property tour. The NAA Capitol Conference offers four great advocacy education sessions this year, including raising dollars for the PAC, meeting with your member of Congress and establishing trust, engaging with reporters and how your advocacy, in conjunction with NAA, strengthens our combined political capital.

If you’re like me and binge-watch an entire season of Netflix’s “House of Cards” in a single sitting, then you definitely know the cast and their respective political titles (and possibly affiliations). Heck, even if you don’t watch you surely know Kevin Spacey plays Frank Underwood, House Majority Whip passed over for Secretary of State. He spends the series exacting his revenge. It is delicious.

Now for those who share my obsession, I’d like to know: Do know your member of Congress as well as you know their “House of Cards” counterparts?

If you don’t, the 2014 NAA Capitol Conference is a great place to start.

If you do, well, what do you say to a drink at the Top of the Hay, the rooftop at the Hay-Adams Hotel, when you’re in town next week? It’s no 10-cent wing night, but it does offer a pretty nice view of the Executive Mansion (that’d be the White House for those whose Netflix binging preferences lean more toward “Breaking Bad”).

Take the #WTHill Quiz: Member of Congress or "House of Cards" Cast Member!

Kathleen Gamble is the Director of Political Affairs for NAA. Is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan and 49ers fan. A deal made with the hubby. When she’s not talking politics, she enjoys good eats. Let her know what you think of her blog. -