End of the Page

By McCrary, Lewis | The American Conservative, October 2011 | Go to article overview

End of the Page


McCrary, Lewis, The American Conservative


Congress discards tradition for touchscreen democracy.

In the screenplay of the 1939 Frank Capra classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" a congressional page leads hero Jimmy Stewart to his desk on the Senate floor. "The page boys are the only real class we have in this place," he tells the new senator about the young men who will later carry in baskets of thousands of telegrams during Mr. Smith's famous filibuster. "The rest are mostly people who come here like they go to the zoo..."

Before men become political animals, they begin life as pages.

On Capra's silver screen, pages are baby-faced adolescents with choir-boy voices, as was often the case during the nearly two centuries that pages have roamed the corridors of Capitol Hill. In recent decades, though, the program had become more regulated, with applicants required to be of driving age and in their junior year of high school. Pages of both sexes lived in proctored dormitories guarded by the Capitol Police and attended class in the morning in the attic of the Library of Congress.

Earlier this year, one side of the Capitol ended the tradition forever. House Speaker John Boehner and minority leader Nancy Pelosi wrote that after an external review by a consulting firm, they had decided the $5 million spent to employ these young men and women could no longer be justified. The pages, once necessary to deliver messages and call members to the phones in the cloakroom, had been made obsolete by technology, they claimed.

Critics were quick to argue that Boehner and Pelosi's explanation was likely a smokescreen for their real motivation: curtailing the sex scandals that had dogged the program in recent years. Members of both parties had been discovered in inappropriate relationships with the deckhands, and with Congress's collective approval rating at all-time lows, the House leadership decided they couldn't afford to have more of their ranks accused of child abuse on government property.

The "prohibitive" cost should not have stopped the program-wealthy alumni offered to pay for it through a foundation, but these offers were re-buffed.

But claims of the program's obsolescence deserve more attention. When Republicans retook the House in 2010, they made a decidedly unconservative change: use of smartphones and other electronic communication devices, once banned, is now permitted on the chamber's floor, provided the devices do not "impair deco-rum." Yet the technology invasion will unavoidably contribute to changing the propriety of the House-which at ground level possesses an intimacy that isn't conveyed by the wide-angle shots of the State of the Union-into something resembling a shabby airport terminal, a place where people silently finger their phone while ignoring an amplified voice across the room. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

End of the Page
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.