How Big A Jerk Could I Be As A Member Of Congress?

Here’s the hypothetical:

I somehow stumble into a full six-year term in the Senate starting in 2013 (first Congress I’d be old enough.) I decide this sounds great, especially since if I can make it all the way through my first term I get that sweet sweet pension at 62 and can stop worrying about my 401k and IRA. But I’m not interested for running for a second term because I like to actually work for a living and I figure it’d be fun to go job-hunting with my most recent job listed as US Senator, 2013-2019.

So how much of a jerk can I be without getting kicked out? Can I call the opposition idiots on the floor? Can I release lots of press statements that are well-peppered with profanity directed at the GOP and the teabaggers? Can I try emulating whatever I saw on House last week? In general, could I troll the crap out of Washington just for the lulz and still make it long enough to vest my pension?

You need only follow the rules of the Senate and not commit any overt crimes. If you became obnoxious enough they might censure you, but so what? So long as you don’t get expelled you’re good to go. Since that’s a political act rather than a criminal one your chances are good that you won’t be expelled, especially if you’re in the majority party.

There is talk in Wisconsin about recalls of the state senators, but I think a US senator can only be removed by impeachment. They can be shot too. But really, you would have to go to great lengths to be removed by any means.

Let me introduce you to Jesse Helms, who basically made a career out of doing the above (albeit from a hyper-conservative stance) for about thirty years. You’re just a dilettante in comparison.


If you call your fellow Senators liars and idiots on the floor, you’ll probably be gaveled down and not recognized to speak, i.e., frozen out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to call them liars and trolls in your press releases and off-floor speeches.

So don’t get into financial improprieties (and why should you, you won’t be raising funds for your next campaign) and don’t sexually molest the pages and you should be good for six years.

You’ve doubtless got your GQ answer… but I suspect that taking it easy as a senator would really involve quite a lot of work…

I’m just sayin’, you might want to think this idea through a little more.

After one term, you’d be eligible for a pension of about $18 grand a year. Nice for six years of work, but you may want to keep contributing to your IRA.

Looking through the history of those who have been censured or expelled, it seems you are on reasonably safe grounds if you are only being a jerk, but stay away from fighting, moral turpitude, and commie-baiting. If you start messing around with money, favors, treason, and that sort of stuff, you would seem to be on quite thin ice.

Hell, if he does it with style I think he might be re-elected.

I’d love to see John Chanler’s motion that got him censured.

If you’re elected to the House, you could cane an opposing Senator to the point of sending him into years of therapy and still stand a chance at surviving your expulsion vote. Of course, the gentlemanly thing to do at that point is to resign, as one must maintain the standards of Southern chivalry and gentlemanly conduct.

(OK, there’s probably no way in Hell that would fly nowdays. Preston Brooks (D, SC) assaulted Charles Sumner (R, MA) in 1856, when the country was half-mad from the tensions that would lead to the Civil War, and Preston Brooks had a cane in the first place due to a duelling injury. These days, you might not even be able to get away with assaulting a journalist in the cloakroom of a private club, as Joe McCarthy did in 1950.)

He’ll make up the rest with speaking fees for the rest of his life. The ability to tell an amusing anecdote about the time you threw up on the vice presidents shoes at a reception for the queen of England will take you far.

It’s not that bad (bolding mine):

I’m not sure what, exactly, he was so worked up about, but obviously he didn’t much care for the tactics of the other side at the time.

This is a funny hypothetical because it’s something I’ve unseriously considered, myself. But the unfortunate truth is that the effort it would take you to get as far as being elected to the senate would change your mind about the prank. Power and riches corrupt absolutely. But it’s fun to think about!

Obama is really the first big-name politician I’ve known who takes himself the least seriously, and he still takes himself pretty seriously. Even Ahnold got serious about politics once he was in office :frowning: But it kinda makes me wonder, what if Stephen Colbert were elected? Would he start taking himself seriously too?

Stephen Colbert as a senator – that I wold love to see. That man is seriously smart and has a quick and wicked sense of humor.

Well, if you are Cynthia McKinney, you can punch a Capitol Police Officer.

I know I have always wanted to do that. Who hasn’t, right?

I believe Al Franken takes his position as Senator rather seriously, if you need a reasonable comparison.

Congressman Gus Savage once threw a telephone at his secretary. A heavy, old-time phone that could really hurt somebody. He didn’t get kicked out for that.

Being a part of the majority counts for a lot too. Not a single member of his party voted to remove a president that patently lied under oath to cover up a sordid little affair with an intern.

I think he takes himself seriously now, but just puts on a fake non-serious face with his character. I think, of all people, Colbert might be able to keep up his character, at least in public appearances, while still being in Congress.

I do wonder if he’d even try, though. At that point, why not be himself? I seriously doubt he’ll actually be able court any conservatives, and he won’t be getting paid for a character. Plus people will want to know what he actually believes without having to read between lines or pick up on the very small clues. While the people who voted for him might have done it as a joke, I don’t think the joke is sustainable for two terms.

If you aren’t raising money for re-election, it’s a very easy job. You don’t actually have to do anything. You don’t have to introduce legilsation, you don’t have to attend committee hearings (but you might want to show up to have some fun), and you don’t even have to vote (which isn’t that hard either).

You have a staff that answers constituents’ letters. You can come in late and leave early. You don’t even have to show up at your office. You can hang out at the Senate Gym and no one can ask anything more of you.