The Corner

Profiles in Constituent Service

I’d never had occasion to call my congressman as a constitent for anything. Until yesterday.

My son’s third-grade class was on a field trip to the Capitol. They had tickets to the Senate gallery but, due to some glitch, didn’t get them for the House. So my wife, who was a chaperone, called me and asked, “Can you get 62 House gallery tickets in the next 20 minutes?” I’ve interviewed the president in the Oval Office, I’ve visited the NORAD command room in the heart of Cheyenne Mountain, and I’ve written my share of favorable profiles of members of Congress. This should be a piece of cake, right?

I wasn’t so sure. I called the office of my congressman, Rep. Tom Davis, a Republican. I’ve interviewed Davis before: He’s very smart (he possesses Barone-like knowledge of congressional districts), a little too liberal for my personal tastes (ACU lifetime rating = 70 percent), but probably a decent political match for the district.

Anyway, I identified myself as a constituent–no playing of the NR card–and asked a favor. Within a few minutes, his office had somebody racing from the Rayburn Building to the Capitol with the tickets.

That’s impressive. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have a happy ending. The ticket-delivery person didn’t connect with my wife because somebody on the Senate side had confiscated her cell phone while she was in the Senate gallery. (Not only are people banned from taking cell phones into the gallery, they’re also banned from speaking, even when senators aren’t present. It means, to take a totally random example, that third-grade teachers can’t tell third-grade students anything about the chamber while they’re actually in it, even when there’s no official business going on.)

I don’t want the efforts of my congressman’s staff to go completely unnoticed. So, time to play the NR card, right here on The Corner, and say: Thanks.

Later on, my 9-year-old son said, for the first time ever, that he wanted to watch C-SPAN.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.