Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 24, 2009
POLITICS: It Depends Upon What The Meaning Of The Word "Lobbyist" Is

It Depends What The Meaning IsJake Tapper notices that Obama's nominee for US Trade Representative, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, worked as a state and local lobbyist in Dallas; Tapper notes that he's at least the fifth lobbyist picked for a significant position in the Obama Administration (and that's before we consider family members like Joe Biden's son or Tom Daschle's wife). Here's the Administration's defense:

"Ron Kirk has never been a registered federal lobbyist," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told ABC News...."How precisely is it a loophole when we never pledged to bar state lobbyists?" a Democratic official asks.

(Emphasis mine). Hey, isn't that a tune we have heard before?

As Tapper notes, that's not exactly what Obama on the campaign trail led people to believe:

[T]hough the president at his most precise has railed against former "federally registered lobbyists" running his administration, at other times he has not been so precise, and his language on the matter at times may have given many Americans the impression that state and local lobbyists -- who in many instances bring the same baggage as federal lobbyists -- would be kept from working in his administration as well.

Now, personally, while it's worth taking a long look at the lobbying background of anyone looking to get into government to see who they owe favors to, I don't actually think being a lobbyist is any less honorable a profession than my own (lawyer), and the role of a lobbyist is inherent in the First Amendment right to organize and petition the government for redress of grievances. As I noted during the campaign, Obama himself once worked as essentially a lobbyist - what else is a "community organizer" but someone who lobbies the government on behalf of the interests of particular people? (In fact, John McCain had also worked as a Washington lobbyist for the U.S. Navy near the end of his time in the service - his official title was as a Congressional "liaison," but the job was functionally indistinguishable from that of a lobbyist for private sector interests). If lobbyists have too much influence in Washington - and most of us would agree they do - it's not because of the nefarious influence of lobbyists but for two related reasons: (1) because the federal government has grown to such a scale and insinuated itself in so many aspects of life that it is in position to do enormous favors or inflict enormous damage on private businesses; and (2) because Congress in particular is willing to write special rules favoring or disfavoring particular businesses to benefit its friends. That power, after all, is a valuable thing; should they give it away for free? And companies that don't want to play ball quickly learn they need to; as Jonah Goldberg likes to point out, Bill Gates once boasted that Microsoft's one Washington lobbyist had no work to do and Washington was "not on our radar"; after the Justice Department came after the company with a series of antitrust lawsuits at the behest of its more plugged-in competitors, Microsoft changed its tune and started hiring lobbyists and making campaign contributions like everybody else.

If you want money out of politics, you first need to get politics out of money. It's the only way. And that's absolutely the last thing Barack Obama is going to do; it's not in his background, and it's certainly not in his policy programs, from more regulations to massive pork-barrel "stimulus" bills to buying big banks.

But while I was never naive enough to believe that Obama intended his talk about lobbyists and "new politics" to be anything but window-dressing on an expansion of the role of the federal government's favor factory, and while anyone who paid attention during the campaign had to know that, the amount of stress Obama put on those themes during the campaign means it is entirely fair game to keep pointing out what a false bill of goods he sold the public. Any serious adult had to know that "new politics" was never meant to do anything but get Barack Obama elected. Which only makes it funnier watching him come up with excuses for why he's still doing business as usual.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:27 AM | Politics 2009 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Wow another politician who wants to ignore his promises and change the rules during the game! Who saw that coming? Do we need another definition of what "is" is?

Hiring a lobbiest into an Administration is not inherently wrong. The key issue is where their loyalties will be going forward, not what they were. Will they make a decisions based on who they used to work for OR will they be more influenced by they WILL be working for when they get out of office? I worry more about the latter than the former.

As was once said "A honest politician is someone you only have to pay once."

Posted by: Lee at February 24, 2009 12:05 PM

He has been president now for 30 something days and it is amazing how everything predicted is occuring 1) incredible over reach (with no end in sight) by him and the Dem Congress 2) total out of control spending (has the deficit doubled, tripled or quadrupled in the last month) 3)foreign countries (you know the ones that according to lefties were are suppose to concerned if they like us) from Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Krgzystan, the EU have already rolled Obumbler and the stock market with more talk of raising taxes on the rich, raising capital gains taxes, (during a frigging recession!!!) and more socilaist policies is dropping like a rock.

Can't wait for the mid -term elections.

Posted by: dch at February 24, 2009 12:29 PM

Who predicted that the GOP governors would posture and pose and make believe they're for fiscal responsibility, but in the end just stand in line with their hands out?
Whoever it was, give that man or woman a cigar for being 100% right.

As for the lobbyists, fuck 'em. After the deceitful MSM and Wall Street executives, they're the next in line for comeuppance from US citizens with pitchforks and torches.

Viva la Revolucion!!!

Posted by: Berto at February 24, 2009 2:07 PM

Nice response to the merits of the post, Berto.

Posted by: per14 at February 24, 2009 4:00 PM

Obama voter = Huge Sucker.

It's almost worth the damage to the country just to see these imbeciles realize they got taken for a ride. Some of them still walk around all starry-eyed and Duranty-like in their delusions. But the blush is really off the rose for so many of them.

I like to remind them of what a horrible person John McCain is, and why he was the wrong choice for the job.

It's sad and it's funny. It's funny-sad.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 24, 2009 8:01 PM
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