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Life in Washington

PoliticsFor anyone outside of Washington, the machinations that make our government work look pretty ugly. The old adage about laws and sausages is right on the money. For those in Washington, eventually you’ll see the names of your friends pop up in the newspaper. They’re often referred to in derogatory ways. In some cases, you’ll see people you have worked with being indicted and occasionally someone you know will go to jail over something they never even knew was a crime. In the past few months, I’ve experienced all of the above.

It really is a bit frightening.

For most people, the chance of your name ending up in an article on the front page of the paper is directly proportional to their likelihood of winning the lottery or the amount of beer they consume per day. In politics, whether it’s local or national, that equation is dramatically skewed.

One of the worst experiences I’ve ever had was my departure from my job as Executive Director of the New Mexico GOP. The Chairman and I really disliked one another by the time it was over. As a result, the feuding, which had been taking place behind closed doors and in heated arguments by cell phone, spilled over on to the front page of the Albuquerque Journal.

A friend called one morning and said one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. He told me, “I never realized that because of your job, you’re actually kind of a big deal in town.” I asked what he meant and he replied, “I’ve never read on the front page of the paper an article about anyone else I know quitting a job.”

Now my wife buys just about every celebrity gossip rag there is and I think they are fascinating. I can’t imagine being, or being married to, an A-list celeb. Sure, the parties, clothes, cars, and vacations would be great, but I leave my wedding ring on the bathroom counter far too often. Every other day there would be a “celebrity ring watch” article questioning the strength of my relationship. And every single article would be based solely on my desire to avoid getting soap in the grooves on the ring.

So when I read the articles in the Washington Post that mention my friends by name, I have to remind myself of the ring, and the soap, and the gossip rags.

Washington has turned gossip into high art. We skip past the rings and nipple slips. We skip past the sham marriages and couch jumping spastic rituals of the celebrity elite. Our media makes every single person involved in the pursuit of better government, and responsible policy seem like the devil’s mistress.

It’s sad really… but it’s life in Washington.

Written by Michael Turk