Dear Big Daddy,
What is it about legislators and touching? Every time I watch the Assembly or Senate floor, lawmakers are grooming each other like kitty cats. If this were any other work place, half these people would be in jail. Is this just a sign that the Capitol is a den of iniquity, or something else? Is this some kind of secret legislative language?
I suppose you want me to expound upon how different it was in my day: the backroom affairs, the old-boys club making lewd remarks over JWR while we puffed on cigars that weren’t just cigars. Of course, Big Daddy will tell you that if he ever got involved with a staffer, it was the staffer in pursuit. In my day, I was the Gavin Newsom of ugly-sexy.
Politics isn’t as much a locker room as it is a high school ski trip. A lot of people a long ways from home with a lot of hormones and without a lot of adult supervision.
If an alien were to land in the Assembly (no Dennis Mountjoy jokes, please), they would think legislators spoke to each other in a language of backslaps and arm-grabs, with sounds merely for emphasis. And in a way they’d be right. Lots of information, including who is about to get screwed (figuratively of course), is being conveyed.
But that kind of personal touch is part of politics, no matter who’s playing. Perhaps nobody flirts with Republican legislators quite like Carole Migden. Watch San Francisco’s senior senator in action some time at the back of the chambers, touching shoulders, rubbing backs.
Good politicians are always looking for a leg up. Lyndon Johnson used to intimidate political rivals by crowding their physical space (not that Big Daddy would know anything about that). And in any good legislator’s office, there should be a chair or couch with extra-soft cushions so that some poor lobbyist or rival legislator is forced to sink low into a chair. That’s the political equivalent of home-field advantage. In this business, a touch can be as threatening as it is flirtatious.
So, as someone who would know, let me assure you there is nothing–or at least very little–sexual in all this touching. It’s far more insidious than that. The good news is that you should get a bit of a tactile respite for a few months. Like any pack of animals, the freshman-heavy Leg needs to re-establish a pecking order. That should keep the man-hugs to a minimum for a while.