Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 25, 2008
By: Hilzoy

The NYT has a story headlined 'Worries in G.O.P. About Disarray in McCain Camp'. It contained this rather astonishing passage:

"The string of departures from the campaign was prompted by questions about lobbying activities by aides and advisers to Mr. McCain and a new policy, which he dictated, that active lobbyists not be allowed to hold paying jobs in the campaign. Mr. Schmidt said that policy was an example of how Mr. McCain would take tough action, part of a contrast he said they would draw with Mr. Obama for “giving great speeches” but having no record of accomplishment."

Let me get this straight. Obama has refused, from the outset, to take money from lobbyists and PACs. He has also refused to have lobbyists on his paid staff. When the RNC has tried to catch him in hypocrisy, it has had to resort to such claims as: he lets lobbyists give him free advice! He has people on his staff who used to be lobbyists!

By contrast, until quite recently, John McCain's campaign was full of lobbyists:

"For years, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has railed against lobbyists and the influence of "special interests" in Washington, touting on his campaign Web site his fight against "the 'revolving door' by which lawmakers and other influential officials leave their posts and become lobbyists for the special interests they have aided."

But when McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington's lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways.

Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O' Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae. (...)

Even as Black provides a private voice and a public face for McCain, he also leads his lobbying firm, which offers corporate interests and foreign governments the promise of access to the most powerful lawmakers. Some of those companies have interests before the Senate and, in particular, the Commerce Committee, of which McCain is a member.

Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain's Straight Talk Express bus."

Yep: McCain's senior political advisor was running a lobbying firm which was registered as an agent for several foreign governments as well as a whole host of corporations, from McCain's campaign bus. But when it turned out that two of McCain's people had lobbied for the odious Government of Myanmar, McCain suddenly saw the wisdom of adopting Obama's approach, and started shedding lobbyists. (Not, however, Charlie Black: while he has resigned from his lobbying firm, the fact that he has represented Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko, Mohamed Siad Barre, Jonas Savimbi, and Ahmed Chalabi is apparently not a problem.)

And the fact that Obama spotted the problems with having lobbyists working for his campaign from the outset and avoided it, while McCain let it fester until it blew up in his face, is supposed to show that McCain "takes tough action" while Obama just gives speeches? Sounds like a winning argument to me.

(Cross-posted at Obsidian Wings.)

Hilzoy 1:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

This is a man who gets a sizable military "disability" pension yet is apparently able to work full time as a Senator and possibly as CIC. So let's see, Senator, you get to work full time, yet you get a sizable disability pension. At the same time you vote against a GI bill for Vets of the Iraq war. And you want soldiers to fight for 100 years under those terms. Douchebag! Hypocrite! Hey, it's OK, you've got a flag lapel pin.

Posted by: hollywood on May 25, 2008 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

no, he doesn't.

Posted by: merl on May 25, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

The disturbing part of the story is that the passage was published by the New York Times. It tells you just how in the tank McCain's base really is for St. John and the lobbyists.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 25, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

If firing lobbyists that he hired in the first place after getting caught is the best the media can do to canonize the man, McCain is in more trouble than I thought.

Looking forward to the next six months!

On the other hand, maybe he can turn things around by reprising his SNL performance and adding some one-handed pushups. (Give America what it wants.)

Posted by: Everyman on May 25, 2008 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's only following the politician's credo: Do as I say, not as I do.

Posted by: DAY on May 25, 2008 at 6:46 AM | PERMALINK

...part of a contrast he said they would draw with Mr. Obama for “giving great speeches” but having no record of accomplishment."

Sure looks to me like Obama's "weakness" is his strength. McCain's experience has allowed him to be corrupted by the Washington machine, whereas Obama brings a fresh and intelligent outlook. Obama could very well turn out to be a lot of hot air, but no candidate in my memory has generated as much excitement about a Presidential campaign, and this country would be stupid to not at least give him 4 years to see if he can follow through. The worst case Obama presidency has got to be better than the best case McCain presidency.

Posted by: Del Capslock on May 25, 2008 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

Surely you aren't meaning to suggest that our media SPINS the facts to favor one candidate or another? My GOD, that would mean folks would have to read AND think about their decisions...most prefer to just have their heads opended up and the TRUTH poured in (especially if it sounds like they already think)...it's been working pretty well for a couple of cycles...

Posted by: Dancer on May 25, 2008 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

Note the use of Hillary's line about Obama just giving speeches and having no substance.

Posted by: wonkie on May 25, 2008 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

"And the fact that Obama spotted the problems with having lobbyists working for his campaign from the outset and avoided it, while McCain let it fester until it blew up in his face, is supposed to show that McCain "takes tough action" while Obama just gives speeches? Sounds like a winning argument to me."

Replace "lobbyists working" with "repulsive fundamentalists endorsing" and you get the reach the same conclusion. Looks like a pattern to me.

Posted by: Stuart Eugene Thiel on May 25, 2008 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Silly Hilzoy

And just how to you expect to get the support of the criminal cabal behind dur chimpfurher if you do not pander to and accommodate all the lobbyists?

We are talking about a senile old man that wants to be "another term" for chimpy.

Of course he is betrothed to the same interest groups.

GREAT CRIMED DEMAND EVEN MORE CRIMINALITY!

Posted by: on May 25, 2008 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Gosh, McCain has had so many powerful white men, foreign interest, lobbying types on board his bus I was starting to get the picture of a return to colonialism should he get the presidential mantle! Maybe I'm merely confused such an historical era with his sge? -Kevo

Posted by: on May 25, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

It's just another wonderful example of IOKIYAR.

Posted by: bluestatedon on May 25, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like a winning argument to me.

Sarcasm aside, yes--unfortunately it does, assuming it gets repeated frequently at face value and utterly without criticism as accepted, conventional-wisdom Truth by media figures across the entire A-to-B spectrum we have in this country. Which it will.

All that is needed for bad arguments to prevail is for the Embedded Corporate Media to do absolutely nothing. A principle to which they have demonstrated a tireless devotion.

Posted by: DrBB on May 25, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Give me a break. David Axlerod, Obama's chief strategist owns a company.. Guess what.. They Lobby. This lobbyist story is a bunch of Hooey.. I guess working with Rezko and the rest of the syrian connection is ok.

Posted by: ashiv on May 25, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

This sort of thing was entirely predictable. Its not surprising that the NYT is in McCain's camp; their offenses are too numerous and well known to to be detailed here. We will see if Obama can effectively counter during the GE.

Posted by: rk on May 25, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

This is off topic, but I love the way the media still refer to McCain's "rustic cabin".

According to McCain's 2007 Senate financial disclosure statement (see page 8, lines 1-6), his cabin, guest house, a third adjoining residence and adjacent properties in Sedona, AZ are worth, at minimum, $2.15 million and may be worth considerably more. This is nearly three times the value of the median price home currently for sale in Sedona ($729,000).

It would be just as easy (and more accurate) to describe McCain's getaway as a "country estate".

Posted by: jm on May 25, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry - McCain will just wear a couple of more flag lapels or maybe dress entirely in an American flag like this.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 25, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

ashiv, what company are you talking about exactly? AKP&D Media & Message is not a lobbying firm. Even if they were, it would be difficult to top the list of Charlie Black's clients (Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko, Mohamed Siad Barre, Jonas Savimbi, and Ahmed Chalabi.) BKSH & Associates Worldwide, now THAT's a lobbying firm.

Posted by: adelena on May 25, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

adelena -- The firm in question is ASK Public Strategies; see here.

Posted by: has407 on May 25, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

p.s. And no, ASK Public Strategies is not a registered DC lobbyist. (Nor is Axelrod--his last short and apparently unsuccessful DC lobbying stint was in 2005.)

Posted by: has407 on May 25, 2008 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK
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