Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lobbyists in sheep's clothing

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article in The New York Times by David Kirkpatrick and Ron Nixon entitled "Lobbies Adopt Tone of Accord With President" which chronicles the extent to which the Obama administration has managed to get lobbyists to agree to work semi-constructively with the administration as legislative efforts are crafted in a spirit of compromise. The amusing part is how activists at both the right and left extremes of the political spectrum are really annoyed at this spirit of cooperation and collaboration (and concession.) For activists, compromise is not a virtue but the ultimate sin. Meanwhile, centrists, pragmatists, and moderates can all breathe a sigh of relief as the Obama administration blazes a trail of sensibility rather than extremist activism.

Even with most of the big lobbyists "onboard" and eager to "work with" the administration, there are plenty of non-lobbyist special interest groups in Washington that are "lobbying" (in a loose, non-legal use of the term) through whitepapers, advertising, editorials, whispering to the media, and other forms of "public education" that do not involve directly lobbying Congress, which is a regulated activity. The NYT article mentions a few of these organizations, but fails to highlight the important distinction between true lobbyists and mere spokespersons for special interest groups.

-- Jack Krupansky


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