"I'm running to tell the lobbyists in Washington that their days of setting the agenda are over. They have not funded my campaign. They won't work in my White House" - Barack Obama, June 2007.
Isn't it grand ? No more influence from K street in an Obama administration. No sirree. Change is on the way. No more lobbyists peddling their special interests. Barack told us almost daily on the campaign trail for nearly two years that the days of lobbying influence were O-V-E-R.
Now, meet Barack Obama's White House transition team (and keep in mind that the word "transition" actually means "change"). The transition team is the first "change" signal Obama is sending to America.
And the transition team is chock full of, you guessed it, LOBBYISTS, as pointed out by The Washington Post.
more than a dozen members of President-elect Obama's fast-growing transition team have worked as federally registered lobbyists within the past four years. They include former lobbyists for the nation's trial lawyers association, mortgage giant Fannie Mae, drug companies such as Amgen, high-tech firms such as Microsoft, labor unions and the liberal advocacy group Center for American Progress.
Hmmm. Maybe Obama meant some OTHER lobbyists weren't going to work in his White House.
Meet Mark Gitenstein, one of Obama's 12 transition team board members.
Mark Gitenstein, one of the 12 transition board members who will play a significant role in shaping the Obama administration, worked on million-dollar lobbying contracts with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and promoted legislation for giant defense contractors Boeing and General Dynamics. Until this fall, he was registered to petition Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of AT&T, Merrill Lynch, KPMG, Ernst & Young and others.
Gitenstein has blue-chip credentials for the volunteer role on the Obama team. He was chief Democratic counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee during confirmation hearings for controversial Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork; was a close adviser to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s White House bid; and served as counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Yeah, baby ! Nothing screams change and post-partisan unity like bringing on board the guy who helped "bork" Judge Robert Bork, which set the stage for all the hyperpartisan wrangling that has accompanied Supreme Court nominations ever since.
Here's a peek at how things are really going to work in Washington now:
"Nothing is going to change," said Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton who did lobbying work for a range of companies after leaving the White House.
"From George Washington to George W. Bush, there has been a role for the lobbyist that is perfectly appropriate and good for democracy. The notion that there is something wrong per se with lobbying is ridiculous. But I favor more transparency and disclosure -- online, in real time, for all lobbyists."
See, lobbyists are suddenly GOOD again. I suspect the turnaround on the matter came about 9pm on November 4th, 2008, when Barack Obama became the new president-elect of the United States Of America.
Did y'all expect something else ? For you young first time voters, maybe you have never heard political shtick like Obama's before, so you get a pass, but for you older voters, you forgot the immortal words of the classic British rock band, The Who - We Won't Get Fooled Again, or maybe Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss.
Here are a couple of the heavy hitting changsters on Obama's transition team.
Ron Klain - Joe Biden's incoming chief of staff. He lobbied for Fannie Mae until 2005. Klain worked as an aide for President Clinton and Al Gore. He was central in attempting to help Gore steal the Florida election in 2000 (all vote counts, recounts, and a later independent vote count show Bush won Florida. Get over it Democrats). Klain helped Fannie Mae with "regulatory issues" in 2004. Hmmm. I'd love to hear more details on that, considering the subprime mortgage crisis.
John Podesta - Obama's transition team co-chair. Former chief of staff for Bill Clinton. He lobbied for the Center For American Progress until 2006.
Michael Toner, chief counsel to the 2000 Bush transition team, says this. "Campaign rhetoric is one thing, but you've got to have serious people who know the inner workings of government."
True, Michael, true. But then why all the soaring BS rhetoric on the campaign trail about how the days of lobbyists are over ?
Because too many politicians don't care a whit about the truth. They get elected by fooling the public into believing whatever blue sky scenario they can concoct that will get the public to elect them into office. After that, Washington runs as it always does.
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