Adios to the Quirks of the 112th Congress

Say goodbye to this Congress' puppies, purses, and ponytails
By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2012 10:12 AM CST
Adios to the Quirks of the 112th Congress
In this Aug. 5, 2010 file photo, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND, carries his dog Dakota as he walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

As more than 80 members of the legislative branch prepare to pack up their bags and hit the road, the New York Times takes a look at some of the quirky characters and characteristics of the 112th Congress that are leaving us for good:

  • No more fluffy dogs: North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad often had a staff member tote around his tiny bichon frisé to press conferences and Senate votes.
  • An end to "purse boys": Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas is also heading out the door, and in her wake she leaves a trail of "purse boys," young male staff members who she famously had carry around her handbag.

  • Departing salty tongues: Sayonara to Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who was known for his sharp (and loose) tongue. Per the Times, he once said to an attendee at a town hall meeting, "Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to have an argument with a dining room table."
  • Fewer flowers: New York Rep. Gary Ackerman's ubiquitous white carnation boutonniere, a daily—and 40-year—tradition, will grace the House no more.
Is there something deeper to the quirkiness of Congress? Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont thinks so. "You get into the routine of seeing certain people all the time, and even the people who are your most contentious adversaries you have certain affection for. I mean, you can’t make up an Allen West," he says. Click for more departing quirks, which include Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe's unwaveringly elegant ponytail. (More 112th Congress stories.)

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