WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The army of newly elected Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives will be arriving here this coming week. They've already capsized the proverbial political apple cart. Now they're ready to change the nation, or so they say. But they're about to encounter the stark realities of life in the nation's capital.
I'm optimistic about their policy goals and their determination to change the way the House operates. But their bright-eyed good intentions need to be checked with this warning: Serving in Congress is like attending the endless, wretched traveling show that most of us know as Cirque du Soleil.
First, you have to make your way past the barricades and the checkpoints and the haughty French-Canadian attitudes. Then you and the other ticket-holders are subjected to the frustration of getting to enjoy startlingly talented acts by the performers who, even as they dazzle, don't seem to ever accomplish any real purpose.
The new House GOP leadership says there will be a reading of the U.S. Constitution on the floor of the House. Perhaps more importantly, they've also decided to require that every piece of legislation must be accompanied by a statement about its specific point of constitutionality. That's refreshing. Whether it will ultimately work is something no one can know yet.
These eager House members must know that for every recitation of the Constitution, there will be the appearance of someone like New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner. He's swiftly emerging as the most pugnacious, arrogant and ill-informed member of Congress.
Over the last 30 years, I've seen most every typecast of political character cross the national stage, in both the House and the Senate. Some were just old lawyers who'd grown eccentric with age. The late Sen. Robert Byrd used to converse with people -- other than fellow senators -- by often talking to them without looking at them. He would only shift his eyes occasionally to check to see if his listener was paying proper homage to his Olympian wisdom.
Barry Goldwater is now (accurately) known as the original architect of the modern conservative movement. In his final years, he was driving a car outfitted with the latest spy equipment. He also brandished a cane with which he would occasionally whack Senate staffers too slow to get out of his path.
And I won't even detail the antics of Strom Thurmond, who was notorious for trying to take an inventory of the undergarments of practically every woman gullible enough to let him hug them.