But, hey, at least Dave Brat talks like an actual person and engages in something resembling an actual conversation. There’s not a lot of that going on in the hallways of the U.S. Capitol. What happens to members of Congress, after they’ve been there a while, is that they spend so much of their time giving stilted talks to one delegation or another in their office lobbies, or speaking in nonsensical generalities to the reporters who stalk them in designated public spaces, that they begin to confuse obfuscation with meaning. They start to think they’re being cagey and persuasive when, really, they’re just being confounding.
This isn’t a new story in Washington (I remember former Senator Bob Kerrey saying once that his kids had banned him from ever again using the words “with all due respect”), but it’s especially problematic at a moment when so much of political activism has moved online, where the prevailing culture tends to be informal, personal and direct. As angry as these new partisan activists may get at elected officials who seem too pragmatic or timid, what really galvanizes them is when, after they air those grievances, the politicians respond with what sound like North Korean communiqués. That’s when they really start to think: Maybe this guy needs to go.