I was just at Del Boca Vista visiting my parents and happened to read their "update" from Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Now, my parents are huge fans of Representative Van Hollen. Their neighbors are all huge fans of Representative Van Hollen. His primary strength in their neighborhood is that he is of the Tip O'Neill "all politics is local" school of thought. His staff members actually take calls from people like my parents, help them with whatever social security or medicare or whatnot question they have, and then call to follow up and make sure everything turned out right. From the moment his staff helped my parents with something that I can't even remember what it was about, my dad announced, "Chris Van Hollen will always have my vote." Geez, Dad, if only poor Connie Morella (Van Hollen's august predecessor) had known she just had to help you fill out a form, she might still be in office!
Regardless, having given the disclaimer above, I laughed out loud when I read the Esteemed Member's update. On one page it has a photo of him sitting in a classroom with what looks like an adorable 5 or 6 year old boy. The caption? "Congressman Van Hollen discusses the importance of education with a Takoma Park student."
Really? Did the Good Congressman sit down with a 6 year old and start talking about the "importance of education?" Hi Kids, I'm here to discuss the importance of education with you. Education is important. Oh wait, you're 6 years old. "Education" is a big word meaning learning, like the kind you do here in school. "Discuss" is a big word meaning talk with each other.
Can we please speak to the 24 year-old staffer who wrote this caption? If not to counsel him or her to at least make captions have the ring of truth, then at least to try to humanize the Congressman. What kind of pompous a** "discusses the importance of education" with a kid when he visits a school?! Most people I know would "spend time with" the students or "learn more about the students" or "enjoy chatting with" students about their classwork. Something. Anything. But not "had a policy discussion regarding intelligent design vs. darwinian theory with second-grader Daunte Brooks of Takoma Park..." Okay, I made that last one up. But you get my point. At some point in anyone's career, trying to appear very serious just makes you appear very silly.
What they need to do next, if they want the REAL ring of truth that brings in votes, is the following: "Congressman Van Hollen sits with [E's Dad] and listens to his stories ad infinitum in a very thick Scottish accent that he doesn't understand but nods understandingly anyway, and then helps him fill in his Medicare Part D form all the while politely deferring on the repeated offerings of steak-and-kidney pie with a side of whiskey..."
Now that, my friends, is how to win elections.