Saturday, December 16, 2017

The weirdness continues

About the same time we heard that Congressman John Conyers was being pressured to resign because of sexual harassment claims and his use of congressional funds to settle a complaint against him, it emerged that Conyers was not unique in his abuse of federal money. Texas Congress critter Blake Farenthold, a repellent toad in semi-human form who was elected multiple times by the not-very-smart inhabitants of Corpus Christi, had apparently engaged in similar behavior. In fact, it emerged that Farenthold's using congressional funds predated Conyers' abuse of the account. Farenthold, however, didn't seem to be going anywhere until things got weird.

It developed that not only was Farenthold a lech, he was (and probably still is) The Boss from Hell. He verbally abused his staff, he threw literal temper tantrums (staffers describe him as having sceaming fits, throwing things, and dramatically sweeping everything off his desk to create a mess the staff then had to clean up), and he had a potty mouth that came straight from a drunken kegger at a frat house. He was, in fact, such an abusive jerk that his male staffers had a hard time working for him, too. One of those male staffers, a man who had been hired to serve as Farenthold's communications director and tasked with trying to clean up his image, actually became physically ill as a result of the stress created by the hostile work environment

The staffer resigned from Farenthold's staff two years ago, but the recent surge in women coming forward to tell their horror stories may have prompted the man to go talk to the congressional ethics office. The incidents described included Farenthold telling the staffer to be sure to get his fiance to perform oral sex before the wedding because it wasn't ever going to happen after he said I do. Except Farenthold didn't phrase it quite that politely. It was a crude, vulgar remark made at full volume in front of multiple staff members. He also made suggestive comments about whether or not the fiance qualified for wearing white for the wedding. The comments were ones that had they been delivered by a peer could have led to a fistfight, or worse, but when they came from the boss? Just what is the appropriate reaction when your power tripping boss jokes in front of the entire office about your soon-to-be wife being a slut? The staffer had to stand there and try not to react, kind of the same way female staffers find themselves refraining from telling the boss where to shove it when he grabs their ass or tells them they have nice tits. 

One of the not-so-secret secrets about working for a Congress critter is that quite a few of the critters really are abusive asshats. The genial good ol' boy voters see on the campaign trail is not the tyrannical Lizard Person the staff gets to deal with. When I read an article about Farenthold's temper tantrums and general Prize Prick of the Year behavior, I found myself hoping that someone will find the guts to narc on Mitch McConnell. One of my friends worked for McConnell during his first term in the Senate, which makes it so long ago fresh dinosaur dung still littered the landscape. She went into the job really psyched because she'd been a huge McConnell supporter but left before the end of that first term feeling very disillusioned. I figure that if McConnell was one of those power-tripping bosses from Hell during his first term, just how horrible must he be now when he's in his 6th? The typical abusive louts do not mellow with age -- they get worse.

As for why you don't see staffers complaining publicly, e.g., going to the ethics office or its equivalent and doing some whistle blowing, it's because they all know full well that if they do lodge a formal complaint anywhere they're never going to work on Capitol Hill again. Or, for that matter, any place else where your old boss's reference can make a difference. If you're a young, not long out of college staffer with a degree in political science and a desire to be in politics, you're going to keep your mouth shut, eat your Xanax, Valium, Prilosec, and whatever else it takes to get you through the work week, and hope you're able to move on to something better.

Anyway, back to Farenthold. Following the latest revelation about his asshattery, he's announced he's retiring at the end of this term. His staff only has to put up with him for one more year. Poor bastards.

A small digression. Farenthold would come up in the news occasionally, usually for making some comment that made Alex Jones look sane or Jenny McCarthy look smart, I always wondered just how thin the candidate pool was in that part of Texas. Surely there must have been at least one other person in the Corpus Christi area whose IQ was not in single digits who wanted to run for office? Apparently not if an escapee from "Animal House" like Farenthold was the best they could do.

1 comment:

My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.