There's an old adage about being nice to people on your way up.
That's because you never know when you'll need them on your way down.
There couldn't be an old saw more prescient than that one on Capitol Hill.
I was reminded of this phenomenon recently when I unearthed a "103rd Congress Directory" from 1993-94. Or, in the vernacular of the day, called a "facebook," back when Mark Zuckerberg was still in the fourth grade.
Waste management giant Browning-Ferris Industries, or BFI, published this particular version. BFI disbanded in the late 1990s. But BFI's logo was ubiquitous, emblazoned on tens of thousands of dumpsters around the country. In those days, it was standard for various firms or interest groups to distribute their own Congressional directories to staff and others who may lobby Congress.
In other words, you need a scorecard to keep track of the players. And these "facebooks" offered a photo of every senator and House member, their committee assignments, some general biographical information, office address and phone numbers. Of course, there were no URL's for websites or Twitter handles. But the most helpful tidbits of information were the names and numbers of key aides for each lawmaker.
As I leafed through the book, I was stunned to see how many names which were just words on a page in 1993 - but jumped off the page at me now.
I found myself uttering the expression "He used to work for him????" over and over again.
But that's just politics. There's always somebody on the rise.
1993 was President Clinton's first year in office. Democrats believed they were well-ensconced with a permanent majority in the House, under the steady hand of Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA). Democrats held the Senate as well with Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-ME) at the helm. And the number two Republican in the House was Minority Whip Newt Gingrich (R-GA). It's also interesting to notice the current status of second-term Rep. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and his 1990 Congressional classmate Rep. John Boehner (R-OH).
But the most intriguing thing about paging through this booklet was seeing where certain staffers started out and where they've gone now. It's a little like toting a high school yearbook to a 20th class reunion. You see who made something of themselves. Who stayed in the political game. Who grew. Who developed. Who was driven. That's to say nothing of a few who left tread marks on the backs of those they plowed over to get where they are today.
For starters, there are a few former aides who wound up succeeding their bosses in office. Former Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE) comes to mind. Back in 1993, Kaufman was Chief of Staff to then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE). Kaufman held that gig for many years and was appointed as his old boss's Senate successor when he became vice president in 2009.
Such was the case with current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
In 1993, LaHood was Chief of Staff to then House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-IL). Michel never toiled a solitary day in the majority in his 38 years in Congress. He didn't seek re-election in 1994. LaHood ran instead, won and became part of a gigantic GOP freshman class that thrust Republicans into the majority for the first time in decades.
Also back in 1993, current Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) served as press secretary to the late House Rules Committee Chairman Joe Moakley (D-MA). McGovern is now a Congressman and a senior member of the powerful Rules panel.
Current Ethics Committee Chairman Joe Bonner (R-AL) also replaced his boss, former Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-AL) after his retirement. Bonner was Callahan's chief of staff.
Then there are those who became stars.
Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-PA) was best known for serving just one term in Congress and being the mother of Mark Mezvinsky who is married to Chelsea Clinton. She cast the decisive but politically-fatal vote on a controversial budget and tax plan in August, 1993. Her press secretary for that single term was Jake Tapper, who is now ABC's White House Correspondent. Tapper also gained prominence after he wrote in 1998 about a date he once had with Monica Lewinsky.
Peter Slen is listed as communications director for then-Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA). Slen can now be seen on C-SPAN often hosting Washington Journal.
As Gingrich and company plotted their way to win the House in 1994, the late-Tony Blankley worked alongside him. Blankley died just a few weeks ago and served as Gingrich's press aide when the Georgia Republican rose to the Speakership. Blankley later gained fame as a TV commentator and editorial page editor of the Washington Times.
Rep. John Olver (D-MA) has never generated a lot of press in his 22 years on Capitol Hill. But the bookish former chemistry professor may have experienced a spike in his media profile in 1993. After all, Olver's communications director at the time was a youthful David Plouffe, the architect of President Obama's 2008 presidential victory.
The communications director for Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) didn't fair as well in presidential politics. Donna Brazile ran Al Gore's campaign for the White House in 2000 and later became a fixture on television political talk shows.
Once George Mitchell left the Senate at the start of 1995, Democrats elected Tom Daschle (D-SD) as their new leader. Daschle was a rank-and-file member before that. And his chief of staff was Pete Rouse who briefly served as Mr. Obama's Chief of Staff.
Two Congressional spokesmen went on to be key press flaks in the administration of President George W. Bush. Ari Fleischer handled communications duties then for Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM). Tony Fratto, who now runs Hamilton Place Strategies in Washington, was press secretary to then-Congressman Rick Santorum.
In the 103rd Congress, Mindy Tucker wrangled the media for Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX). She later was national press secretary for the 2000 presidential campaign of Bush 43. She then handled communications for the Bush Justice Department and for the Republican National Committee.
The BFI booklet lists Phil Schiliro as the press secretary for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) in the mid-1990s. Schiliro just announced his departure from the Obama White House where he was a senior adviser. Schiliro was best known for helping to shepherd the Dodd-Frank Wall Street measure and health care reform through Congress.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) has served in the Senate since 1997. But he was in the House in the 103rd Congress. And his legislative director was Jeff Trandahl. Trandahl later became the Clerk of the House of Representatives in 1999.
For some Congressional aides in the early 1990s, not a lot has changed even though it is now 2012.
George Behan is listed as press secretary to Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA). Today, Behan still works for Dicks as a top aide. The same is the case for Danny Weiss. He was Chief of Staff to Rep. George Miller (D-CA) nearly 20 years ago and remains Miller's go-to person on the Education and Workforce Committee. Niel Wright is now chief of staff for Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI). He was Petri's press secretary in 1993. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) moved to the Senate in 1997. His chief of staff was Drey Samuelson. And Samuelson remains in that role today. Billy Tranghese also remains on staff as a key staffer for Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) nearly 20 years later. The same is the case with Rick Dykema in the office of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Ed McDonald has worked almost continuously for Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC).
The "facebook" lists Larry Lavender as chief of staff for Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL). Today, Bachus chairs the House Financial Services Committee. Lavender just stepped down as staff director on the Republican side.
Barry Jackson was also the top aide for a sophomore Congressman from southwest Ohio who had an unpronounceable surname. Jackson left Capitol Hill to work in the Bush Administration. But he's back now, as Chief of Staff to the Speaker of the House.
A few other aides have bounced around but remain on Capitol Hill or in administration politics.
Ed Cassidy was chief of staff for then-Rep. Martin Hoke (R-OH) in 1993. He is now Boehner's Director of Operations. Eva Malecki was press secretary for former Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) in the 1990s. She now handles media inquiries among other responsibilities for Stephen Ayers, the Architect of the Capitol. Perry Plumart is now communications director for Sen. Johnson. But he toiled for Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) nearly two decades ago. Dan Scandling was with former Rep. Herb Bateman (R-VA). He's now chief of staff for Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). Betsy Wright Hawkings was with former Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) in the 103rd Congress. She's now chief of staff for freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL). Sean Moran is listed as an aide to Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN). He's still on the Hill now as Chief of Staff to Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI).
Kathi Wise has handled scheduling duties for three Wyoming senators. First for the late Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-WY) and then for the late Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY). When Thomas passed away in 2007, Wise stayed on board with his successor, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
Tens of thousands of people work each day on Capitol Hill. Some are veteran hands. Others are interns barely out of high school. One Congressman once told that he always paid special attention to the junior staff. I asked why, given that junior staff generally have very little power.
"Because the junior staff inevitably becomes the senior staff," he replied.
Sometimes that's because they attached their wagon to the right horse. Sometimes because they did a good job. Some were just so talented they were destined for success.
And in politics, there's always somebody on the rise.