Our Elected Officials’ Mutual Admiration Society

January 24th, 2013

What is it with politicians?

Pick a crisis and you can be guaranteed that when it’s time for them to give the public a status update, they’ll spend the first ten to fifteen minutes praising and patting each other on the back for the great job they’re doing even when they’re not.

For example, most of Hillary Clinton’s appearance on Capitol Hill yesterday consisted of politicians praising her and thanking her for her wonderful public service.  That was before they began asking her how it happened that under her watch we lost the first ambassador since 1979 in a terrorist attack on September 11th.  Oops!

This happens all the time.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, school shootings . . . name your disaster . . . and the first thing politicians want to talk about when they first approach a microphone is what an outstanding job all the other politicians in the room are doing to handle the crisis.

Having been around lots of “public servants” in my life, I know that quite a few of them really need an ego stroke.  If you put them under a truth serum, half of them would probably confess that it wasn’t the public service they were all excited about when they entered public life but the constant adulation and adoration they were after.

Still, as citizens and taxpayers, I think we need to finally stand up and demand that this mutual admiration society come to an end.  Obviously, it’s impossible to ask them to stop altogether because that’s probably asking too much.  It would be like asking them to vote term limits for themselves.  Never gonna happen.

Here’s an idea.

In the future, any praise or thanks for the great job everyone is doing must happen in the first 30 seconds.  One representative will be permitted to speak.  An official timer will keep track of the time limit.  Even if Mayor So and So is speaking midsentence about the achievements of Governor You Know Who, the awesome public servant who left his ski vacation to attend to the state wildfires, he’s cut off.

I know that seems harsh, but it just has to happen.  Here’s an example of how it could work.

The Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee could open the hearing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the following statement:

Madam Secretary, on behalf of this entire committee (including John McCain, Marco Rubio, Rob Johnson, and Rand Paul believe it or not), we’d like to thank you for your years of extraordinary service. We are so incredibly grateful to you for all you’ve done for this country. What would we have done without your service as First Lady and Senator from New York?  If that wasn’t enough, you’ve logged enough miles as Secretary of State to earn permanent Platinum status on all the major airlines. If it was within our power to do so, we’d erect a monument in your honor on the National Mall. We have little doubt that you’re destined for the White House (with the exception of John McCain, Marco Rubio, Rob Johnson, Rand Paul and all the other Republicans on this Committee).

After this statement is read and the crowd erupts in a standing ovation, that’s all that will be permitted to be said on this topic.  Surely, this should tide over her ego long enough to get through all the actual committee business.  After watching yesterday, I feel sure they could have gotten out of there an hour earlier if they’d just eliminated the fawning.

I think I’ll send this suggestion to a few of my friends in Congress.  That’s probably a good place to start. But how should I begin? Hmm . . . .

How about—Dear Congressman X, Our country certainly couldn’t function without your amazing service for which I’m extraordinarily grateful. You are absolutely the best  . . . . That should work!