Ask a Lobbyist: ...Only Outlaws Would Lobby

Every week, our Anonymous Lobbyist answers your questions about how laws get made and why they probably shouldn't. If you have a question about the dirty business of doing business in Washington, ask her.


This week: Big old people have had their mouths at the public teat for too long.

Are there hugely powerful lobbies that the average political watcher has never heard of?

Well, not to be all Clintonian about it, but it depends on the definitions of "average political watcher" and "never heard of." I mean, are you talking about D.C. people in the biz, or your average person in flyover country who reads the Post and the New York Times online and then maybe like The Economist and this site? Because, if it's the former, no, there's really probably no huge lobbying power that you haven't talked to, worked with, or worked against. But, if it's the former, uh, hell yeah. You read the press coverage -- MSM or otherwise -- of lobbying and you'd think it's all tobacco, pharmaceuticals and automotive companies, with a little Indian tribe, Pacific island territory and music industry thrown in for good measure. Maybe you realize that the AARP has a lobby shop (though, they've got a great press shop, too, which pretty effectively keeps them from being tarred with the same stink as the corporate lobbies), but you don't think they really do the same stuff that the "bad" guys do. So, let me break it to you - the press kinda only covers the lobbyists that piss you off (Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Big Auto) and not the ones that you like/feel represents that which is "right." So, unless you've also heard about and followed Big Old People and Big Labor and Big Baby Seals, then there's plenty you haven't heard of. University lobbyists? We got 'em, and so does your alma mater if they've got research money. The NCAA has a lobbying shop, not that I have any idea who doesn't like them. MLB spends plenty of money to keep their handy-dandy little anti-trust exemption. And the list just keeps on going like the fucking Energizer bunny.

Do you have a nemesis, another lobbyist or group you actively compete with/try to undermine? How do you deal with them?

I don't have a nemesis, per se, but I have a short list of people I make sure to actively dislike and try to undermine. This is high school, after all. But it's not like it's necessarily people on the other side of the aisle, or of the issue -- it's just people that piss me off. Generally, I would be defensive and say that they disliked me first or were asses to me first, but that's just because I know what side my bread is buttered on. I am actually actively nice to people I think I can use to my advantage- it's only once they decide/realize that I'm a stone cold bitch that I feel justified in disliking them openly. Normally, I just dislike most people quietly.

As for how I deal with them, this is the South, and I heard something somewhere about luring more flies with honey than vinegar. So I'm extra-nice and extra-competent when there are other people around so that they look like asses for being dicks to/about me and then pretend like everything is totally cool when we're alone so they don't have a thing to point to. And when someone brings it up, I can pull the sad-eyes and confusion and makes them look even smaller and more petty.

But someone with whom I disagree for a living doesn't make my list by simple virtue of disagreeing with me. I have my job, they have their jobs, and I frankly don't get paid to care. Lobbying coalitions and issue adversaries are really fluid -- you disagree with someone one day, work together the next, it's not worth the time/effort/loss of civility to get all up in arms about it. Given the new political reality, everyone is working today with someone they opposed last year, and everyone knows it happens, so most people don't take work disagreements too personally.

If they were to outlaw lobbying, which they won't/can't, what would you do? Would you have to go to some cult deprogramming center first?

Well, technically, it's more of a can't than a won't, based on those pesky Surpreme Court rulings upholding its constitutionality. So, unless you think that they should get on a constitutional amendment abridging my/your right to lobby elected officials (since God knows there are no more important issues for legislators to deal with in the next 5 years), it's not really fair to say they won't outlaw something they can't.

But, no deprogramming centers for me. If you can get 'em to do a constitutional amendment against lobbying when all the right wingers in the world (and their money) couldn't get them to do flag-burning or gay marriage, I'll go quietly into that good night. As for a new career, maybe televangelism would be a good choice? I think I probably have the perfect experience and enough pious looks stored up to convince people to give me money to gain access to a higher power for the fulfillment of prayers/wishes. Ahem.

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