Ask a Lobbyist: Your Mother Should Know
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: Quality time with the family.
Which is harder, actually doing your job, or all the crap you take for doing your job? Do you tell people you're a lobbyist with a smile or a grimace?
Well, if being a lobbyist was actually difficult, it wouldn't be a profession to which former Congress members would be attracted, would it? Lobbyists spend most of their days on the phone, crackberry or Interweb or just sorta generally hanging out, like most of the other sales professionals in the world. So, there's very little about my job that's difficult, though hard is certainly a whole different question- and one that you should direct to your local Congressional representation...
On the other hand, outside of D.C., who in the world asks me what I do for a living? I mean, seriously, it's not like I go home for Thanksgiving and the fam is sitting around talking about cousin Billy's proficiency as a Wall Street trader and the old classmates and I talk about our careers at the local dive. It's all about the wedding announcements in the local paper and who's having kids and real life and shit. I haven't yet been at a party outside of The Swamp where the first (or second or third) question is what I do for a living. So, actually, outside of D.C., it's totally a don't-ask-don't-tell kinda situation for me.
Besides which, before Abramoff, most people didn't even know what being a lobbyist meant. Now they just think I make like 5 times the money I actually do and screw people over, so, on the scale of things, I think I inspire a little more fear and and disrespect than before, when people were just scratching their heads and trying to remember the word from high school civics. But, you know, whatever. Didn't we all stop caring what people in high school thought of us when the head cheerleader got knocked up and the football captain got jailed for a DUI fatality? Or was that just my high school?
Can one still have a soul and be a lobbyist?
Well, we're not a theocracy (yet), so it's not like I technically have to sell a soul to betray our perfect democracy that's been handed down from the heavens.
Now that we're all done laughing, like, seriously. Even the soul-protectors of the Religious Right have lobbyists. Wait, actually, that doesn't prove my point. I guess maybe the soul-transfer thing could've been in the fine print that my company made me sign, but I don't think so. I feel pretty much the same as before I became a lobbyist, only I don't worry about paying my student loans or having to drink cheap beer. I still have to kiss my boss's ass and pretend like his jokes are funny and like Congress members are fucking brilliant... Wait, maybe this is hell? It's definitely at least purgatory. Hmm, I'm going to go dig out my contract after all. Bastards.
Can you name one benefit that the K Street Project has bestowed upon the profession of lobbying?
Well, can we count my ability to do whatever I want because my boss is an idiot as a benefit? Because I really think that's a total bonus. If I had a boss that was either competent as a lobbyist or a boss, then I might actually have to work for a living rather than showing up hungover most days and drinking coffee to work off the hangover while surfing the Internet for a new job. But, lucky for me, he's a K Street charity case and he has no idea how to make nice with Democrats. So, he spends most of his time these days on the phone making calls to commiserate with his Republican friends and to try and make sure his job is still secure while I run through my expense account with abandon and he doesn't even quiz me as to whether I'm paying for drinks for D's or R's. So, pretty much everyone who is stuck with an idiot boss like mine is probably in the same position, but it's better than being some poor Republican Judiciary Committee staffer on the job hunt (but that's what you get for working for an idiot with access to television cameras rather than just your standard-issue idiot).
I once saw a bumper sticker that read, "Please don't tell my mother I'm a lobbyist. She thinks I'm a piano player at a whorehouse." Does you mother know what you do for a living?
Sure, she knows I'm a lobbyist, but, as far as she's concerned, it's definitely a step above White House Intern, so I'm cool. Does she know that I spend most of my working hours drunk or hung over trying to pretend that some idiot's not staring at my tits? Well, she didn't stay home with the kids, so she pretty much figures the latter is par for the course regardless of my profession (they do run in the family, after all). She doesn't think Social Security's going to last as long as my liver either, so it's all about what pay the bills and builds the 401K. That's why I love my mom.