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Left holding the (brown) bag

It’s not often you get to have lunch with a U.S. Senator. Yet that’s exactly what I did yesterday.

Actually, I should rephrase that: I got to watch a U.S. Senator have lunch yesterday.

You see, at the end of his first year in the Senate, Ben Cardin (right) invited a small group of reporters for a “brown bag lunch” in his Washington office.

As a political junkie, it was a pretty cool assignment, and as a reporter, it was nice to have the undivided attention of sitting U.S. Senator for an hour and a half. Let me tell you, that is a hell of a lot of access.

But I didn’t know what the protocol for a brown bag lunch at a Senator’s office was. Did I bring my own food or did they provide it?

I ended up sticking a sandwich and chips in my briefcase. I figured if I needed to bring the food, I’d just pull it out of my bag, and if they provided it, I had lunch for the next day.

Well neither happened.
The reporters all sat around a large conference table taking notes while – wait for it – not eating!

Cardin though, went to town on what looked like a turkey sandwich. This hurt considering I hadn’t had breakfast.

Let me tell you something, the guy can eat! He tore up that sandwich like my 16-year-old devours a piece of cake!

It was scary to watch! I was afraid somebody would get a finger in the way and then we’d have had a real mess on our hands.

But, like a good politician, he didn’t let his food get in the way of his talking. And befitting a true veteran of the rubber chicken circuit, this was not a disgusting display with flying half-masticated food bouncing off the walls, but the artistry of high-wire performer chewing and talking in perfect symmetry.

Pretty impressive to watch.

Also impressive was Cardin himself. He seems so affable, but it was interesting to see him aggressive and forthright, not holding back because of his audience. You could tell how open and frank the discussion was by the tone of the questioning, which was pointed but fair.

And that should be the testament. Fair isn’t a word often associated with a roomful of hungry reporters who thought they were getting a free meal!

LOUIS LLOVIO, Business Writer

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  1. So, let’s get this straight. You were too intimidated to eat what you had brought to a “brown bag lunch,” presumably because none of your other peers were eating, and then you discuss the Senator’s eating habits since he decided to actually eat lunch at said “brown bag lunch.” Instead of reporting on what the Senator actually said. Wow.

  2. If you’re interested in Louis’s (more serious) story on Cardin, here’s a link.

    I’ve added it to the post, as well. My apologies for not providing it this morning.