And of Course in the Photos She Looks Neither Congressional Nor Supermodelish
This never should have happened for two reasons.
First, the guard should have known she was a Congresswoman.
Second, she should not have hit the guard. As my wonderful TinyE would tell you – “no hitting!”
One thing I remember well from my days as an intern on Capitol Hill is the availability of little books that have a picture of every single elected official within them. The books are popular among staffers and interns and pages, among guards and the little subway train conductors because they keep you from committing the cardinal sin of not recognizing an elected official when you see one. The last thing you want to do if you operate the little train thingy is pull away while mockishly waving at Bill Frist. In fact, the first thing you want to do is kick someone off the train to make room for Bill Frist. The first move gets you fired. The second move gets any social security wrinkles that your dear Aunt Martha is having cleaned right up - post haste and with retroactive remuneration.
Senators tend to be easy to spot. They dress like Senators, and they are usually with people. The act like Senators, and they almost always have some little pin on or another. If that's not a good clue, they often are carrying a glass of wine, pinching someone's butt, or carrying a bag of cash. Congressmen and women are tougher. Sometimes they dress more casually than staffers do. And, well, there are about 435 of them. Their bags of cash can be very small - small enough to fit in a pocket.
But part of the guard’s job is to know the elected officials when he sees them. Shame on him.
And so, you’re an elected official, and you go unrecognized and then you get grabbed by a guard in post 9/11 America. What do you do?
a. say “unhand me immediately” and get the guard’s name from his badge, mispronounce it horribly, and then remember it for “reassignment” purposes;
b. hit that s.o.b. with all you got and end up all over CNN and Newsweek looking muy, very, tres, unCongresional;
c. ignore it - you've got a deficit to reduce; or
d. take the high road, explain who you are and kindly let guard know what your expectations are for future meetings.
A big part of being a Congresswoman is looking the part. When you go the diva route and hit someone, well then you’re not really looking like a Congressman*. You’re looking more like a Supermodel.
Oh, and by the way, the answer is "A."
*Unless the person you hit is either (a) a staffer (critical - must be one of your own staffers!), (b) another elected official (especially if he or she is at the state or local level) or (c) a terrorist.