Film still from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington‘How a Bill Can Succeed on The Hill’ by Mark F. Stone The Society December 26, 2019 Culture, Humor, Poetry 20 Comments It is rare that a bill can succeed on The Hill based on only the skill of a hobbyist. If you suffer the lack of a plan of attack, what you need is the knack of a lobbyist. Since their fee must be paid and expenses defrayed, I’ll dispense with all shades and pretenses. You’ll need cash and a lot, or you’ll be a have-not, peeking meekly through wrought iron fences. Making law often can be more tortuous than winding streets in Old Tangiers, Morocco. But with cash, you’ll be in. They will greet you with grins, wide and warm as the winds of Sirocco. Is the nation a mess? Are the flyovers restive? If so, then success may be tasted. Be strategic and clever. Use angst as a lever. A crisis should never be wasted. If there’s no pressing need, then you must sow the seed, with a chant loud, repeated and rhythmic: “Pass this bill or we’ll see locusts, storms and debris, plus a plague that will be cataclysmic.” If a shutdown is looming, it’s safe to assume there’ll be fear and some room then to wrangle. Put your bill on the block. They’re unlikely to squawk, since they won’t let democracy dangle. Here’s the smart power play. Tuck your slim bill away in a CR with pages aplenty. You evade and elude. Like the deep-staters do. It’s the trick of the true cognoscenti. Give them minutes to read the bill. Vote at full speed. Let the push to proceed be incessant. When you press, just expect that a few will object, with the rest circumspect and quiescent. Swapping votes is an act both pragmatic and practical. It’s just a pact, yours for mine. It reduces the prattle. A vote cast for cattle will earn, tit-for-tat, one for swine. If things stall, then supply them with pork barrel pie, like that bridge to the Island Gravina. Spreading pork all around gets things done in this town, with no risk of a downstream subpoena. Court the press and be bold. Full court press is your goal. Then your bill will get sold to the masses. It takes charm and some luck. Be a mensch, not a schmuck, or your bill will be stuck in molasses. If your foes face election, your goal is eject them. With ads that connect, you can beat them. Make the strike as intense as the fierce Tet Offensive. You might just upend and defeat them. If you choose to apply this assistance, then I say it’s likely you’ll triumph with splendor. If you don’t, you won’t win. You will grimace, chagrined, saying “I could have been a contender.” Yes, the goalposts are wider if you’re an insider. A point you may try to ignore. But it’s they, you will see, who will grace the marquee. …And so shall it be, evermore. Mark F. Stone grew up near Seattle, Washington. After graduating from Brandeis University and Stanford Law School, he worked as an attorney for the United States Air Force for 33 years. He served 11 years as an active duty Air Force JAG attorney. He then served 22 years as an Air Force civilian attorney (while serving part time in the Air Force Reserves as a JAG attorney). He began writing poems in 2005, as a way to woo his bride-to-be into wedlock. He recently retired, giving him time to focus on poetry. He lives in central Ohio. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 20 Responses Leo Zoutewelle December 26, 2019 A delightful (and clever) verse about a miserable reality: that is quite an accomplishment! Well done Mark, thanks. Reply Mark F. Stone December 28, 2019 Leo, I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. Thank you for commenting! Mark Reply James Sale January 1, 2020 Agree with Leo – very skilful, well done – you are becoming one of the leading comic poet on these pages, Mark! You constantly entertain with your clever word plays – excellent. Mark F. Stone January 1, 2020 James, Your comments (which are below) are very flattering. Thank you for dropping by! Mark Julian D. Woodruff December 26, 2019 The stanza beginning “Court the press …” is especially delicious. I hope there are at least a few legislators among your readers. Reply Mark F. Stone December 28, 2019 Julian, Thank you! I’ll have to send the poem to some Members of Congress. Mark Reply Joseph S. Salemi December 26, 2019 The making of legislation is like the making of sausage — it won’t do to look too closely at the details. Reply Mark F. Stone December 28, 2019 Professor Salemi, Yes, that is a good analogy. Mark Reply Paul Oratofsky December 26, 2019 Cleverly wrought. In stanza 3, the city called Tangier has no “s” at the end. Reply Mark F. Stone December 28, 2019 Paul, I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. And thank you for pointing out the spelling mistake. Can’t believe I missed that. I’ll fix it in future publications. Mark Reply David Watt December 27, 2019 I wouldn’t usually enjoy reading a commentary on the power plays inherent in the passing of legislation. However, the humor, internal rhymes, and anapestic musicality combine to make this a delightful read. Reply Mark F. Stone December 28, 2019 David, Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it! Mark Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant December 28, 2019 An admirably crafted, spot-on poetic observation of political skulduggery. Your rhyming skills are truly inspirational. Great stuff! Reply Mark F. Stone December 28, 2019 Susan, I’m pleased that you enjoyed the rhyming. Thank you for stopping by! Mark Reply Monty December 31, 2019 The fact that I’m on this side of the pond and thus have no knowledge of the subject-matter . . didn’t detract from the pleasure I got in reading the piece. It’s so intricately crafted, and the diction/syntax never once suffers from the (obviously difficult) task of internal-rhyming. That in itself is a high achievement in a fairly long poem such as yours. I have to say . . some of your rhymes are truly outstanding, eg: rhythmic/clysmic.. aplenty/scenti.. incessant/quiescent.. vina/poena . . they’re so unusual; some real captures. In S12, I would’ve felt compelled to contract the word ‘them’ to ‘’em’, as in . . ..you can beat ‘em. ..upend and defeat ‘em. . . just as a way of disguising that the same word (them) is being used twice for a rhyme. Jolly well-written. Reply Mark F. Stone January 1, 2020 Monty, In stanza 12, I see the rhyme as: can beat them / defeat them. So I’m comfortable with using “them” twice. I’m very pleased that you enjoyed the poem! Mark Reply C.B. Anderson January 1, 2020 You are correct, Mark. The rhyme here is “beat/-feat” and it doesn’t matter what the unstressed portion of the feminine rhyme is, so long as it is the same (or roughly the same) in both rhyme endings. Reply Monty January 14, 2020 Ah, I see what you’re saying, CB. Cyrus J February 8, 2020 Smart, skillful, funny, meaningful, topical, original, historical, wonderful. Everything poetry should be and then some. Kudos to you, Mr. Stone. Reply Gary Colter September 11, 2020 Haven’t read a poem in years – my fault. Came across this – man was it great! Love the creativity – Great job – thanks for the inspiration and hope Mark F. Stone!!! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.