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Thread: Shock! Horror! Senator-only elevators being run over by regular citizens!

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    Default Shock! Horror! Senator-only elevators being run over by regular citizens!

    WASHINGTON, July 30 — In addition to lofty issues of war and peace, the Senate is grappling with another urgent matter: the senators-only elevators at the Capitol are being overrun by the unelected.

    “I hesitate to say that it’s a big problem,” said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, shaking his head gravely. “There is terrific crowding.”

    Mr. Lautenberg, a Democrat who has served more than two decades in the Senate, said he had never seen the Capitol so packed with unelected interlopers.

    The crowding extends to the elevators, one of the few sanctuaries available to beleaguered lawmakers as they try to navigate between the Senate chamber, various hearing rooms and offices in the Capitol.

    “Sometimes you have to shove your way through, push people,” Mr. Lautenberg said.

    Add the elevator problem to the litany of senatorial hardships, somewhere between flying coach and the high costs of barbering.

    At times, senators even find themselves on public elevators, an ordeal fraught with the possibility of having to push their own buttons (the senators-only elevators usually have attendants).

    Worse, senators sometimes share their moving sanctums with staff members, lobbyists and T-shirt-clad tourists who apparently missed (or ignored or cannot read) the senators-only signs.

    Or, double-worse, with reporters.

    “No, no, no, c’mon, c’mon,” Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania complained recently as about 10 reporters trailed his colleague Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York onto a senators-only elevator.

    Standing outside the elevator, Mr. Santorum complained that “some of the rest of us” need to get on board, too. (He eventually squeezed in.)

    The essential idea behind the elevators is to allow senators to travel easily to the Senate floor for votes. They are designed, in Mr. Lautenberg’s words, “to expedite process,” although some senators are not so certain. Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, called the elevators “a tradition that has long since outlived its usefulness.”

    Even so, tradition is a potent conceit on Capitol Hill, especially in the upper crust corridors of the upper chamber.

    Members of the House have their own elevators, too, but senators are fewer in number, are more recognizable and tend toward a tall aristocratic archetype. House members blend more seamlessly with the masses and are harder to recognize, which creates its own problems. (Congressional staff members related an incident in 2001, in which they recalled the freshman Representative Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania, who is white, admonishing Representative Julia Carson, who is black, that the elevator they were riding on was members-only. Ms. Carson, of Indiana, proceeded to introduce herself to her new colleague, offense taken.)

    “There’s all kinds of lore associated with the Senate elevators,” said Charlie Cook, a Senate elevator operator during his college days at Georgetown and now the editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report, an independent newsletter.

    Mr. Cook mentioned one episode, which he attributed to “accepted lore” but did not witness: Senator John Tower, Republican of Texas, was said to throw a volcanic tantrum when an elevator operator did not recognize him and failed to heed his request to take him directly to the basement.

    “Hold onto your hat, cowboy,” the attendant is reputed to have told Mr. Tower, who was wearing cowboy boots. “I’ve got a senator I’ve got to pick up.”

    Senators-only elevators offer tidy distillations of humanity. “You see all the extremes of behavior,” said John B. Breaux, the former Louisiana senator.

    Several senators and staff members recalled the penchant of Paul Wellstone, the late Minnesota senator, for recruiting nonsenators to ride the elevator with him.

    Mr. Cook remembered Senator Hubert H. Humphrey coming aboard an elevator, saying hello and asking where Mr. Cook was from.

    “Shreveport, Louisiana,” Mr. Cook replied, and Mr. Humphrey proceeded to unburden himself of everything he knew about Shreveport — what Congressional district the city was in, who represented it in Congress and the restaurant where he ate during a visit there.

    “He basically kept talking through the ride, as he walked off the elevator, down the hall and around the corner,” Mr. Cook marveled.

    Older, tradition-bound Senate veterans — like Ted Stevens of Alaska and Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia — have gained a reputation for hostile glares (or grumbles) when confronted by elevator interlopers.

    But anyone who concludes that senators are pampered beings of privilege may rest assured that the elevators are sometimes a source of angst.

    “There are times when I press the senators-only button and there are people waiting for the elevators, and I do feel a little guilty.” Mr. Lautenberg admitted.

    “Sometimes I invite them in,” he said, “and sometimes I hope they don’t recognize me.”

    The basic rule is this: nonsenators are allowed to ride only if asked by a senator. Such invitations typically occur when a reporter is in mid-interview with a senator walking off the Senate floor.

    Lobbyists have been known to park themselves outside elevators with attractive young women, the better to win invitations. To be sure, such tactics took place only in earlier eras, when senators held a less enlightened view of women.

    (In 1994, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was said to have engaged in excessive touching of his then-freshman colleague Patty Murray of Washington. Ms. Murray later asked for and received an apology from Mr. Thurmond, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported at the time. Through a spokeswoman, Ms. Murray declined to comment.)

    Mr. Breaux concluded the matter with a nod to the public good: “I think the elevators are designed to keep members of the public from having to ride with senators,” he said.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/02/wa...gewanted=print


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    Elite Member Lobelia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shock! Horror! Senator-only elevators being run over by regular citizens!

    I love it. I used to get peeved walking 17 miles from the parking lot to the National Airport (what is it now, Ronald Reagan Airport?) and seeing rows & rows of empty parking spaces for senators and judges. I had this urge to throw rocks at the handful of cars that were parked there.
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    A*O
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    Default Re: Shock! Horror! Senator-only elevators being run over by regular citizens!

    What? Does this mean the senators can't have Elevator Sex with their interns any more?
    I've never liked lesbianism - it leaves a bad taste in my mouth
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    Default Re: Shock! Horror! Senator-only elevators being run over by regular citizens!

    Quote Originally Posted by A*O
    What? Does this mean the senators can't have Elevator Sex with their interns any more?
    Ha ha! I'd like to see someone try to have elevator sex on that elevator. It's not that large and it's very public even if it's behind a velvet rope and kept from us plebians.

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