Lobbyists, liars, and patriots

Most of what little I understand about economics, market forces, and capitalism in general has been learned from listening to Marketplace on PRI. It’s on every evening, with repeats at the website. I heartily recommend it. Last night, one of the topics addressed was the place of lobbyists in government.

Where will Obama draw lobbyist line?

Bashing lobbyists on the campaign trail invariably got the crowd roaring for Barack Obama. That puts him in a post-election quandary, though. Some of the best resumes he’s getting are from lobbyists.

It was a brief but instructive piece, the most instructive — the most telling — was part of an interview with Stephen Hess, who’s been studying and participating in the inner workings of government for decades. He said that, without lobbyists, “You could bring in all sorts of terrific people. But they don’t necessarily know, let’s say, how to get a bill through Congress.”

Conclusion: as presently constituted (forgive the ironic pun), the federal government would grind to a halt without lobbyists.

In all honesty though — call it idealism if you must — should we accept that as an argument for continuing to rely on lobbyists to run an Administration? Isn’t it equally an argument for getting rid of lobbyists, for letting our elected representatives and their staffs do the work?

Just wondering.

On the upside of the scale, a couple of short clips for those of you not glued full-time to the Internet or cable TV. The first one is Campbell Brown at CNN, pouring ashes on the heads of the McCain acolytes who’ve been trashing Sarah Palin.

Pre-emptive confession: I too have found occasional fault — as occasionally as I could — with Her Golden Archness. But I have not and would not blame her personally for the fall of McCain. That she contributed to it, yes, but to give her major credit is to underestimate what we see in retrospect as the rampant incompetence of whole McCain Campaign. Then too, it’s likely that no Republican could have won this year. wars, the economy, the total Bush legacy, would have dragged anyone down.

Furthermore — and largely unexamined by the media so far — is the full range of Obama’s skills and potential. Had the GOP nominated someone else, Obama might have run a completely different campaign. The one he ran was one designed to defeat McCain. The more I watch the man, the more I believe that — among so many other things — he could have tailored a winning image and campaign to defeat whomever he faced.

ADD: Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker has a fascinating report on the inner workings of the Obama campaign.

The second one is a short bit posted by Eric Martin at Obsidian Wings. His intro: “See how us Fake Americans celebrate presidential elections in the East Village. We of the Less Patriotic, not Pro-American persuasion:”

And how can you watch that one, and not be reminded of this one, from 66 years ago? I still get choked-up watching either one of them.

Maybe there’s hope for us yet, as a nation, as a culture, as a people.


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