ticks and stones will break my bones, but watching 20 hours of C-SPAN almost sucked every drop of life from my body. Never suspecting that any harm could come of it, I eagerly accepted an assignment to watch 20 hours of C-SPAN for Mother Jones
. I love politics, and despite a constant backlog of work and parenting responsibilities, I often, for a few minutes at a time, furtively nip at the hooch of C-SPAN's public affairs programming.
Little did I know that 20 hours of C-SPAN are to regular time what cat years are to human time. The first hour of my 20-hour watch began with live Senate coverage. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) was arguing against U.S. participation in the chemical weapons ban because terrorists "by the very title...are not going to be complying with this." He was obviously laying the groundwork for the "let's not pass laws against theft, since thieves, by the very nature of their name, won't comply" argument.
There was a fair amount of "debate" on the ban, but most of it consisted of senators thanking their opponents (inevitably referred to as "my good friend") for their important work on this issue. Sometimes it seemed like the whole Senate might spontaneously close up shop and go camping together. They might get more done if they all hated each other.
The senators all address their remarks to a "president pro tempore" in a big chair in the front of the room who says stuff like, "the senator from Rhode Island is recognized for five minutes." Which gives me the impression that in six minutes no one will have any idea who the senator from Rhode Island is.
Of course, their comments are entered into the record, but I can't figure out who they were talking to before C-SPAN started televising their sessions. Often, there are hardly any other senators in the chamber. Even the Senate avoids the Senate, because it's deadly dull in there. I was sorry I hadn't taken pledges from my friends and neighbors to pay some worthy cause a couple of bucks per minute of my viewing time to make my marathon a more valuable experience.
Sometimes, when I would begin to feel sorry for myself, I'd take heart in the fact that at least I'm not a C-SPAN camera operator. For the rest of their lives they'll probably break out in rashes whenever they hear the words "thank you, I'll be brief."