Pajama party! Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Pajama party! Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A well-deserved Catch to Paul Waldman for ridiculing one of the silliest affectations adopted by the current crop of politicians: the insipid trend of members of the House sleeping in their offices.

Oh, spare me. If you're doing it because you don't want to get too settled in Washington, then I assume you won't be running for re-election, right? I thought so.

I'll grant that as far as affectations go, this one certainly takes commitment. But how exactly is sleeping in your office supposed to keep you connected with the real America? What's going to make you more "out of touch," getting an apartment so you can have a good night's sleep when you're doing the people's business, or literally never leaving Capitol Hill? Is signing a one-year lease on a studio going to suddenly make you change your views on deficit spending or tax cuts or the next trade deal? If it is, your constituents probably shouldn't have elected you in the first place.

Worst is that Washington isn’t a bad approximation of “normal” America, at least in terms of living conditions. Certainly more normal than New York, or Manhattan anyway. Socially, politics-obsessed Washington may be unusual, within the circles most politicians will find themselves, but in terms of commuting, eating, shopping and entertainment it’s a fairly ordinary city. More to the point, whatever its quirks as a lived city, most of them would tend to enhance a politician’s appreciation of the diversity of American settings.

Sleeping in their offices, however, politicians learn nothing and they aren't living like regular Americans. In other words: Great catch!

To contact the writer of this article: Jonathan Bernstein at

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Max Berley at