"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, October 26, 2023

The Rise Of A Capitol Hill Politician - How Money Is Always To Be Made From Disorder

Clement P. Seamen had been elected from one of Iowa’s most liberal districts.  It was still corn and soy country, but diversified by a town which had lured a high tech firm from Silicon Valley during COVID – in the office, work at home made no difference in this quarter of Iowa where there was nothing but pigs, overalls, and combines. The company paid well and offered its employees rapid advancement, and before long other firms from the software corridors of Boston and Washington had come out.


The town, thanks to this influx from the most liberal centers of the country, became the anomaly – a deep blue district surrounded by a sea of red. and Clem Seamen was proud to represent it.

Of course he, being home-grown with simple tastes and affections, knew little about the Eastern agenda of transgenderism, the avenging black man, global warming, and the oppression of women.  He had been brought up Methodist, Rotary, and feed store.  He knew no blacks or gays, and most married women stayed at home to tend to the garden, the chickens, dinner, and children.

By rights he should have been conservative, or at least Republican; but he had no political philosophy to speak of, took only desultory interest in the electoral process, and voted this way and that depending on kinship or club membership. What mattered most was his political savvy – a brilliant ability to know which way the wind was blowing when it was only a breeze, how strong the current was before it joined the river, and most importantly what men wanted even before they admitted desire to themselves.  In short, he was a natural politician.


Like all politicians born or made, Clem was ambitious and saw a seat in Washington an opportunity to make money, have women, and if re-elected enough, to sit forever in a safe seat, and have a very easy ride.

On the stump he said just the right things, weaving agriculture with AI, stroking liberal egos while courting corn row farmers.  With ease and grace, he was someone for everyone, a shoo-in, a local hero. After his election and at the covered-dish supper-cum-sushi bar event on the parade ground of the county seat, San Francisco gamers and schoolteachers shared their enthusiasm for good ol’ Clem, man of the hour who would put them and Iowa on the map.

When he arrived in Washington, Congress was a mess.  The House, always a wooly, untamed lot of crackers, bayou bait, and city slickers, had become even more of a side show.  Infighting, browbeating, hectoring, and playground bullying had erupted like never before.  Congress was never expected to be a reserved, thoughtful place. Alexander Hamilton two hundred years before knew exactly what this unwashed, mad lot of populist pashas would be like and insisted on a body of intelligent, respectful intermediaries, Senators, to calm the roiled waters of the hoi-polloi.  He would be smiling down on Clem and others as he saw his chickens come home to roost in an unparalleled display of venality, excess, and sheer ignorance.


‘In every crisis there is opportunity’, said economic sage and Iowan hero, Alphonse Diggins; and Clem Seamen knew that this time was it. Once the overturned tables and chairs were put back in their legislative place, ripped flags and broken flagpoles replaced, stained carpets cleaned, he would be a friend to all.  He had an uncanny way of making everyone think he was their friend and ally. Complete with silver tongue, sharp intelligence, and a canny way of sniffing out weakness and desire, he could pick up the pieces of the broken and discredited body of legislators and make a beautiful, secure, political home for himself.

Things did quiet down as they were bound to.  Money was to be made from doing the nation’s business, and it was time to get back to it.  After a lot of harrumphs, sincerity, and mime shows of caring and renewed moral vigor, Congressmen and women took their seats.  Clem, although seated on the Democratic side of the aisle was often seen on the Republican one so agile and deft was he in working both sides of the street.  Yes, he voted with them, but his heart is with us, said his Republican counterparts, and given such inclusion, he could mine the lode until its seams ran out.

He knew when to keep his head down, and when to peer out of his foxhole; when it was time to speak, and when to keep his own counsel.  He became a master of House rules, protocol, and manners – an acolyte, a doer, and a dutiful member of his august institution.

As such, no one paid any attention to his dalliances and came to admire his squiring of the nation’s most beautiful women.  Seen with Hollywood starlets, singers, and runway models, he was the envy of his colleagues. He had done it all with impeccable taste, a latter-day JFK and never with the lowbrow, glitz and glitter of Donald Trump.  As with everything he did, Clem was as much admired by the Rittenhouse Square, Beacon Hill, and Park Avenue as he was in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans where black men loved him as one of theirs, a stud horse in a thoroughbred stable.

And money was definitely to be made.  Clem learned quickly how to turn an entitlement to his Iowa districts into spare change in his pocket. Deals were made, creative Wall Street instruments added, cost-overruns planned, and millions siphoned to Iowa via contractors, investors, builders, landscapers who never forgot their benefactor, Clement P. Seamen.

The ride was, as Clem had anticipated, a long one.  He was reelected every two years  each time with an even greater share of the vote than before  He was and would always remain Iowa’s hero.

Yet with his coffers full and his belly satisfied, it was finally time to leave; and so it was that this still relatively young man was seen in St. Tropez, Aspen, and Gstaad, as at home with Europe’s literati and aristocratic sophisticates as he had been with his American admirers. He was indeed a man for all seasons, living proof that glibness, agility, and most of all moral independence were the keys to the kingdom.


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