At 21, HOH Is Legal, but Not Too Old to Dish

Posted March 18, 2009 at 6:08pm

Twenty-first birthdays are a time for revelry (and usually for drinking unadvised amounts of low-quality alcohol), a time to mark a transition into adulthood.

[IMGCAP(1)]And although Heard on the Hill is marking 21 years of providing Capitol Hill readers with a dose of gossipy fun and the occasional scandal, we’re certain that HOH will never lose its youthful spirit.

HOH, by nature, is forever young.

In fact, it takes a certain amount of juvenile humor to appreciate the foibles that make the column a must-read.

The fact is, no matter how solemn or how old they are, people love to gossip. We know that because HOH is often the best-read part of the paper, even when there’s no shortage of very serious work afoot in Congress. When there are headlines of economic catastrophe and political warfare, our readers — some of the most important and powerful people in the world — have to react. And we know that we’re all gossipers at heart by the army of tipsters who, over the years, have delighted in spilling stories of bar fights and wardrobe malfunctions, celebrity sightings and overheard conversations.

We will never stop marveling when some of the most brilliant minds, the most diligent public servants and the most serious of policy wonks relish describing to HOH the most superficial and petty offenses of Capitol Hill’s denizens. This always makes for fantastic HOH fodder.

Sometimes, they’re ratting out political enemies or venting frustrations. But mostly, they are simply engaging in some of the most basic impulses: to laugh and to connect with others who will share the joke.

To butcher a quote by Alexander Pope: To err is human, to gossip about it is divine.

HOH debuted in 1988, when our first president named Bush was taking office and the sex scandal du jour involved Gary Hart.

Since then, the column has grown with the newspaper. In 1988, Roll Call published once a week and sometimes read like a scrappy community newspaper. Now, we have four editions a week when Congress is in session, and the sleeker look and feel of the large news organization that we’ve become. The column has two full-time writers instead of one part-timer.

Despite the evolution, much about HOH has remained remarkably unchanged. The cast of characters and the pop-culture references are different, but what was fun and funny in 1988 still titillates today.

We like to think of HOH as that little black dress that never goes out of style. Like our urge to gossip, it’s timeless.

And no matter what our birthday, whether it’s 21 or 101, we’ll never look — or act — our age. We promise.

HOH Alumni Look Back

Winneker: Of Hot Tips, VIPs and Tales That Wag the Dog

Pershing: Sharp or Snide, HOH Was the Most Fun Job