This is the second in a series of posts evaluating President Barack Obama against his own statements. Part I here. Not sure how many of these I’ll do, but there’s certainly no lack of material.
Two days after Barack Obama was sworn in as President The Washington Post published an article about the remarkably stringent rules against lobbyists and lobbying that President Obama imposed on his administration.
Obama was following up on a campaign pledge to have a new openness and purity in government that would exclude the influence of lobbyists and special interests.
That pledge and the integrity of those impressively stringent rules lasted, oooh, let’s see, January 22 to February 5 is 14 days. So those rules appear to have lasted two weeks as anything more than window dressing:
(Sorry, no transcript does that justice. You have to watch it.)
What you just witnessed is Jake Tapper asking Robert Gibbs, then the President’s press secretary, a very simple “housekeeping” question about the “waivers” to the lobbying rules that had been issued and really ought to be a matter of public record (if transparency truly is the name of the game) but are mysteriously unavailable. Robert Gibbs, sensing danger and not being able to toss a smoke grenade and run out of the room, tries a Jedi mind trick instead (“These are not the questions you want to ask,” or words to that effect). Problem is, Tapper is the Jedi in this one and Gibbs isn’t even a padawan. Evisceration ensues.
More recently Dana Milbank reports on another lobbyist who got a posh post in the administration, noting, however, that the gentleman in question didn’t technically violate the ban because he de-registered as a lobbyist and merely continued running the lobbyist firm for which he had been a lobbyist for a time before being hired into the administration. Milbank offers, dryly, “Only in today’s Washington could a president circumvent his own ban on hiring lobbyists by hiring the head of a lobbying firm.”
Har har. In fact, as Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner reports, the White House has hired at least 50 former registered federal lobbyists.
But this one beats all. While lobbyists have enjoyed easy access to the White House for a while now, administration officials, wishing to avoid having the name of their appointment appearing in the White House log book (which is a public record) have taken to meeting with lobbyists in a coffee shop across the street. Pretty much the epitome of non-transparency.
As for the pledge not to accept money from lobbyists, how technical do you want to get? Carney has been dogged in mapping the stream of filthy lobbyist cash running into the Obama campaign.
I’ll highlight two of his articles. In this one from October 2011 Carney goes down a list of state-level lobbyists, recently former lobbyists, spouses of lobbyists, and heads of lobbying firms from whom Obama has accepted cash.
And this one from March of this year in which Carney lays out the Orwellian rhetorical devices Obama and his people use to keep themselves pure as the driven snow (in their own minds, anyhow). Carney writes:
So, by the common understanding of the word lobbyist, Obama and Messina are certainly accepting lobbyist donations. But instead of using the word the way most people understand it, Obama and his team, as is their style, use the word in a misleading way that allows them to paint themselves in a flattering light. They decide that you are only a lobbyist if you register to lobby the federal government under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Since the Obama administration hasn’t visibly enforced the LDA’s registration requirements, this is a nearly meaningless definition of lobbyist.
As Carney says in another article exposing Obama’s coordination with lobbyist money, “This doesn’t make Obama any different from other politicians — but it sure makes him different from what he promised to be.”
And that’s the point. Barack Obama is not the change anyone hoped he would be.
Next part: $3 trillion in 8 years is less than $5 trillion in 3.5 years.
Next part: No new taxes on the middle class! [Some items that crossed my path today made this topic more compelling for the moment.]