Obama's Phony Ban On Lobbyists

As someone who always thought President Obama's (and then Presidential candidate John Edwards') rhetoric on lobbyists was so much nonsense, I am not at all surprised to learn this:

Mr. Obama's nominee for deputy secretary of defense, William Lynn, has been a lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon, and his nominee for deputy secretary of health and human services, William V. Corr, lobbied for stricter tobacco regulations as an official with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. A senior White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, conceded the two nominees did not adhere to the new rules. . . .

So much for the ban on lobbyists. As Robert Schlesinger writes:

I thought Obama's sweeping condemnation of lobbyists was better campaign rhetoric than policy. The reality is that some lobbyists are as nefarious as advertised and some are not. Some want to turn their public service into big bucks and some turn around and help what we liberals would call good causes. And oh yeah: Many have experience that could be helpful for a new administration trying to enact its agenda.

The entire episode was total BS imo and any one who bought the nonsense deserves what they get as they were being willfully blind.

Speaking for me only

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    Many of those who believed (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by jbindc on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 02:32:53 PM EST
    will ignore this little tidbit and make excuses anyway.  But, I'm surprised he didn't wait a little while to when people really weren't paying attention.

    The lobbyist ban (none / 0) (#59)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:35:32 AM EST

    The lobbyist ban makes little sense.  Lynn knows how congress works, and knows the industry.  Those are the skills and knowledge you get as a lobbyist.  Obama is smart to skip the stupid rhetoric and go with a guy he thinks that can get the job done.

    It was all phony. (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by RonK Seattle on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 02:56:17 PM EST
    The post-partisan Unity shtick was phony. The war on earmarks was phony. The split with Hillary on foreign policy was phony. The math was phony. The timelines were phony. The New Kinda Politics was phony. The whole Theory of Change was phony.

    Having elected a phony Candidate Obama, we have to govern with the real President Obama -- a man who may already realize how much of Candidate Obama was phony ... or more ominously, may not.

    Hell I hope all that is phony (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:01:06 PM EST
    Just like his trade populism is phony.

    Pols are pols . . .


    The concern is twofold (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by RonK Seattle on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:55:17 PM EST
    One, that Obama doesn't have a plan.

    Two, that he doesn't know it.

    Signs point to Yes.


    Well, this is one guy. Didn't Bush... (none / 0) (#40)
    by magster on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:41:07 PM EST
    ...have cynical appointees from lobbyists throughout his staff -- like a timber lobbyist heading the forest service, and a mining lobbyist in the EPA and etc.

    I'm not defending Obama on this -- he should mean what he says.  It's hard to not compare Obama to Bush when I judge what Obama is doing and I still look at that executive order as a meaningful change, even if the change is half-a**ed.


    Funny thing is (none / 0) (#58)
    by maddog on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 10:34:17 AM EST
    that you cannot compare Obama to Bush on this, because Obama was for change.  You can't just say oh well, Bush did it so it is no big deal.

    The money trail (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by mmc9431 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:11:11 PM EST
    Lobbyists and politician are joined at the hip. There's just too much money involved on both sides. I just hope he doesn't allow them to continue to write their own legislation.

    Wow, I wonder what it must be like (5.00 / 5) (#16)
    by Anne on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:26:54 PM EST
    to have skills and experience that are so unique that no one other than you could be the right person for a particular job?

    What happens, then, when Mr. Corr and Mr. Lynn reach into their uniquly qualified pasts to bring on board more uniquely qualified people to assist them in their new positions?  Will it be waivers all around, justified by Obama's desire to have the most unique departments ever?

    What would be uniquely refreshing would be for President Obama to have searched high and low to find nominees who didn't have to be waivered at all, thus proving by his actions that he was serious about keeping the lobbyists out of government service.

    Oh, well.

    I'm fine with the nonseriousness on this (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:34:08 PM EST
    I always knew it was not serious.

    I think we all knew it was unlikely (5.00 / 6) (#27)
    by Anne on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:42:25 PM EST
    that Obama was going to be able to stick to his anti-lobbyist position, but couldn't he have at least waited a little longer than the first few days of his tenure to go back on it?

    Isn't that a little like promising not to ever cheat on a spouse, and then doing it while on the honeymoon?


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:44:07 PM EST
    It was clumsy politically no doubt.

    BS that worked (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by mmc9431 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:40:27 PM EST
    It always was BS, but it worked for Obama. He was the Wahington outsider. The reality is no one gets to be president as an outsider.

    Yeah, some Washington outsider (5.00 / 7) (#35)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:59:24 PM EST
    Daschle recruited him before he even left his own office, bequeathing him his extremely powerful chief of staff and helping him put together a two-year plan to be in a position to run for president.  He was coddled and curried and given every boost possibly by the Senate leadership and the people behind the scenes from day one-- with the full and explicit expectation that they were preparing him to be president.

    PBS's Frontline program has had some great stuff on this.  The latest was called "Dreams of Obama" and aired on inauguration night.  Transcript and video should both be up on the Frontline Web site.


    It always seemed unrealistic (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Alien Abductee on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:45:59 PM EST
    You can't cut off all that potential experience and knowledge and have a fully informed body of expertise to draw on. You do have to distinguish between those willing to use their knowledge and experience for the goals the administration wants to achieve and those dead set on using it to fight them. But that's too nuanced a position to campaign on. Therefore we got the no lobbyist position during the campaign and the realistic position now when they've won. And it was part of what helped them win.

    If you don't care, why bother posting on it? To say nyah nyah I told you so?

    Yep (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:47:22 PM EST
    Definitely just a nyah nyah moment.

    When do I get to do that on trade?

    Or as Obama says, "I won."


    I hope you don't get to do it on trade (none / 0) (#33)
    by Alien Abductee on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:50:21 PM EST
    I think he will go for reforms re labor and environmental protections. That's a popular position, unlike including lobbyists, so therefore more likely to happen. I look forward to my nyah nyah moment on that.

    Hilarious (4.80 / 5) (#2)
    by squeaky on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 02:46:56 PM EST
    White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "Our waiver provisions are designed to allow uniquely qualified individuals like Bill Corr and Bill Lynn to serve the public interest in these critical times."

    Spencer Ackerman

    Kind of speaks to the notion that Executive Orders are, um...  flexible..

    speaking of Gibbs (none / 0) (#37)
    by Nasarius on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:17:38 PM EST
    I'm thoroughly unimpressed so far. He reminds me of Scott McClellan. Not informed, not very adept at spin, and vaguely hostile. Maybe he'll improve, because right now he's a lousy public face for the administration.

    Have Not Seen Him Yet (none / 0) (#39)
    by squeaky on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:32:18 PM EST
    No doubt he is gross and a spinmeister. I have no teevee but am sure that I will see him on youtube in the near future.

    Uh Oh (none / 0) (#47)
    by squeaky on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:50:30 PM EST
    In a closed-door appearance before the Senate intelligence committee, White House counsel Gregory Craig was asked whether the president was required by law to follow executive orders. According to people familiar with his remarks, who asked for anonymity when discussing a private meeting, Craig answered that the administration did not believe he was. The implication: in a national-security crisis, Obama could deviate from his own rules.

    Mark Hosenball  war & piece

    A White House official said that Craig's remarks were being "mischaracterized."

    OK, I feel much better now...


    I think he is sticking to it pretty well (none / 0) (#5)
    by samtaylor2 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:10:44 PM EST
    Personally I find all this hubub to be false anger.  He seems to be sticking to the spirit of his rule.  I am not sure why that is so bad?

    This is the one year anniversary (5.00 / 11) (#9)
    by andgarden on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:15:18 PM EST
    That post gets bookmarked (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Plutonium Page on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:29:03 PM EST
    Instant classic.

    Forgot about that, (none / 0) (#41)
    by delandjim on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:42:47 PM EST
    I had completely forgotten about that. Yep, sure brings back memories.

    It sort of looks like not the entire press corps is laying down and rolling over for him. This could get interesting.

    One thing I am concerned about is, if he is a failure it will brand Hillary too as part of that administration.


    Excellent wit. (none / 0) (#10)
    by ThatOneVoter on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:16:01 PM EST
    The spirit of the rule is (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:18:47 PM EST
    what? I am curious to read your response.

    As I said, I never cared a fig about this nonsense. I did object to all those who pretended this mattered though.


    I am not a lawyer (none / 0) (#44)
    by samtaylor2 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:05:25 PM EST
    But I with any rule or law I think of there being a spirt and and the letter.  A completely strict reading of any rule doesn't make sense in this complicated world.  It is the spirt by which we should follow the law/ rules.  By that the intention should be followed as best as one can.  If the rule must be broken, it should be broken in a way that does not break the overall goal of the law/ rule.   Now if that has been broken for a bad reason (e.g. paying back a company), I guess it is a big deal.

    sam, pardon me if I'm not interpreting you (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by Anne on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 06:55:08 PM EST
    correctly, but you seem to be reaching to find a reason why it's okay for Obama to break a commitment to something he stressed over and over again as a reason why his presidency was going to be different, why "business as usual" would not be the order of the day in an Obama administration.

    Can you explain why Obama's self-imposed rule "must" be broken?  Is there some compelling reason why he cannot hold to his commitment?  Are you prepared to argue that only these two men - plus Daschle -  can do the job that needs to be done, that there are no others whose have the experience and background and do not have the lobbying connection?

    Don't you think Obama would have been better off campaigning on the idea that he would find the best people to staff his administration, and remaining silent on the lobbyist issue, which would place him in a position to be able to defend his picks without looking like a weasel?

    He came up with this bright-line test to set himself apart from the others, to help him get the nomination and win in November, but his willingness to abandon it so quickly - Daschle was really the first pick with lobbying connections - shows it to have been nothing more than a tactic and not nearly the rock-solid core belief he packaged it as.  I and others may never have believed it was the commitment he said it was, but I have to think there were a lot of people who voted for him who are a little disappointed in this turn of events.


    I am not reaching (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by samtaylor2 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 07:36:04 PM EST
    Even though I agree pols are pols, I also am willing to take the word of most of them.  I don't think every action is based on some nefarious reason.  If Obama says that this is who he needs I take at his word.  I don't think there are a huge number of qualified people for this position.  

    the spirit of the law is served how (5.00 / 0) (#56)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 08:49:01 AM EST
    by having these 2 lobbyists serve in the Obama Administration?

    Indeed, I think the spirit of the law is especially phony precisely because while the letter of the law is observed in the Daschle case for example, the express spirit is utter;ly violated.


    His promises to take the (none / 0) (#6)
    by ThatOneVoter on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:10:48 PM EST
    war into Pakistan weren't phony.

    Offshore oil drilling, too (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Plutonium Page on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:29:58 PM EST
    Anyone who's surprised that it's continuing as stated by a whole bunch of Dem candidates is not living in the real world.

    Ivory Soap (none / 0) (#8)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:14:56 PM EST
    2 waivers has got to be less than 1%. If he keeps it Ivory Soap pure I will be pleasantly surprised,  

    Really? (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:20:39 PM EST
    Why does it matter at all and if it does why is 2% impurity ok?

    Let's be honest - it was phony BS always.


    Snark Dude. (none / 0) (#14)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:25:23 PM EST
    Some people used to call Soviet Union elections Ivory Soap elections because the victor always got 99% of the vote (admittedly I am reach 35 or 40 years back in my memory).

    Anyway, wouldn't you be pleastanly surprised if ONLY 2 waivers are granted?


    Nope (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:33:11 PM EST
    Never cared about it at all.

    Indeed, consider the Secretary of Health and Human Services. A blatant lobbying situation but we are supposed to pretend that it is not.

    the whole thing is phony BS.


    I think we are in agreement (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:51:51 PM EST
    the difference seems to be I am a cynic with goo goo inclinations, you are a goo goo with cynic inclinations. I will be shocked and pleasantly surprised if only 2 waivers are granted because the cynic in me never believed the goo goo. You are outraged that 2 waivers were granted at all (the idealist in you winning out over your cynicism). At least that is my take.

    Hopefully this makes some sense to you, in any event, its not intended to be an insult.


    I';m not outraged at all (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:00:20 PM EST
    I do not care really if he has 100 lobbyists waivers. Hell, he must have that many in top positions (I mean Daschle types)

    Who did Dashle lobby for? (none / 0) (#42)
    by delandjim on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:47:12 PM EST
    I know he was a big time lobbyist but who were his clients.

    I wonder how long until that gets pointed out.


    And while you're doing your (none / 0) (#45)
    by oldpro on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:10:42 PM EST
    research, check out his wife's lobbying activities.

    Here's a hint:  include healthcare and/or insurance companies in your googles.

    P.S.  It was pointed out many times, months ago.


    pointed out by who... (none / 0) (#50)
    by delandjim on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 06:33:36 PM EST
    Bloggers talked about this but is did NOT get much coverage in the MSM. That is the point.

    Of course not. That might (5.00 / 2) (#52)
    by oldpro on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 07:27:29 PM EST
    have hurt Obama, the MSM candidate.

    Lots of Things Float (none / 0) (#15)
    by squeaky on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:26:39 PM EST
    And the Ivory Soap Purity standard allows room for a lot of leeway.  

    99 44/100%  pure what?



    ain't touchin' that! (none / 0) (#23)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:35:57 PM EST
    In all seriousness, 99% purity on the executive order on interrogations will be totally unacceptalbe. That is all or nothing.

    Pols are pols (as someone, somewhere said) on most ordinary promises. I believe em when I see em and take em with a grain of salt and evalute the results.


    Am I the only person in America who hates (none / 0) (#13)
    by esmense on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:24:49 PM EST
    the use of "promises" to describe the proposals candidates put forward during campaigns? It seems to me, we should be grown up enough to know that most of what is proposed by campaigning politicians can not be written in stone and certainly can't be considered some kind of sacred oath. They can provide some notion of the candidates values, concerns, general theory of governance, etc. But, given that these proposals are made in the context of an unknowable future, they can't be considered unbreakable "promises."

    I don't care if a couple of members of his administration have lobbied in the past. I do care that Obama seems committed to eliminating blatant conflicts and ensuring that members of his administration as a whole are more devoted to the common good and public service than to providing former associates, and themselves, with private gain from public resources.

    But (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by jbindc on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:30:39 PM EST
    I do care that Obama seems committed to eliminating blatant conflicts and ensuring that members of his administration as a whole are more devoted to the common good and public service than to providing former associates, and themselves, with private gain from public resources.

    But, couldn't you argue that he doesn't seem very committed to his own words, if one of the first people he nominated within days of entering office has a lobbying problem?

    Now this Lynn could be the best person for the job - it's just that Obama campaigned on superior judgment and that first HRC, then McCain couldn't be trusted with our country, but he could.

    So, was he lying then or his he lying now?


    I never cared about lobbyists (none / 0) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:31:59 PM EST
    Obviously neither did Obama.

    I'm fine with that.


    Lobbyists are a reality of Hill politics (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Plutonium Page on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:36:23 PM EST
    If you do opposition research, you find that out pretty quickly.

    They'll never go away.


    Yep (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:39:01 PM EST
    Daschle's close relationship to the campaign (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by esmense on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:46:30 PM EST
    provided, in my view, a clear and early indication of Obama's flexibility and lack of purity on the lobbyist issue.

    the whole campaign (none / 0) (#32)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:48:13 PM EST
    struck me as strewn with lobbyists. And there was nothing wrong with that.

    During the primary, I was annoyed by (none / 0) (#38)
    by tigercourse on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:30:13 PM EST
    Obama, Edwards and all of their supporters making a big stink about how evil lobbyists were even though everybody knew that the next administration would listen to lobbyists and have lobbyists in it. Still, this is a "promise" that I don't particularly mind Obama breaking.

    The whole anti-lobbyist ... (none / 0) (#43)
    by Robot Porter on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:51:08 PM EST
    nonsense was an attempt to have a short hand way of saying they wouldn't be unduly influenced by powerful groups in this country.

    Of course, I always thought it would be easier to just say that.

    But what do I know?

    The anti-lobbyist refrain (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by oldpro on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:19:24 PM EST
    during the Bush years worked for Democrats the same way the welfare-queen refrain worked for Republicans during the pre-Clinton Democratic years.

    It's shorthand and it's baloney any way you slice it.

    My organization dues pay for lots of lobbyists re issues I care about and I'm fine with them being hired to carry out policy.

    The rule:  never mind what they say...watch what they do.


    Another Politician (none / 0) (#48)
    by frogfan on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:58:33 PM EST
    I am pretty much a middle of the road person. Registered Republican for the majority of my life, but a few years ago I reregistered as an Independent. I didn't vote for Mr. Obama, but was hoping for the best. Someone fresh and new and not jaded by the Washington establishment.

    Well he has just proved to me that he is just another politician.

    Has there ever been one that has kept his word!!!

    And we wonder why our country is going to hades in a handbasket!

    Maybe you could give him more than 5 days (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by DFLer on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 06:08:39 PM EST
    to round out the report card.

    Maybe this is as good as it gets? (none / 0) (#55)
    by kstills on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 08:26:34 AM EST
    Well, seems Obama is actually a politician and not a magician.

    Which is comforting in some aspects, and rather depressing in others.

    I don't know which is worse: his actions, or the defense of his actions.

    The right side of the net calls this nuance, the left used to call it illegal and an assault on the constitution and all that was good and right in Amerka.

    I can see the hope and change taking place already.....


    Believabilty (none / 0) (#57)
    by Simple Voice on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 09:12:04 AM EST
    At best, I  only believe half of the promises  any politician offers up during a campaign. Obama is no different.
    I never believed anything Edwards ever had to say. Some guys just ooze dishonesty. The word smarmy was invented for guys like Johnny-boy.