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: walk a mile in a lobbyist's shoes.
How do you feel about lobbyists wearing flipflops in the halls of Congress? I am not a lobbyist -- but I was doing some volunteer lobbying when one of the young ladies with me set off the mags with her shoes. So she changed into her flip-flops AFTER putting her pumps through to be x-rayed. I had just about decided that I could tolerate flip-flops because it meant that woman wanted to be comfortable and not slaves to fashion, but in the Senate Office Buildings? Why not just buy some comfortable, presentable shoes if you aren't going to wear the heels anyway?
Well, like many women lobbyists, I don't exactly buy shoes for comfort anymore. On the other hand, the more you abuse your feet, the less they seem to care, at least in the short term. So, I personally walked about a mile yesterday in three inch stilettos and didn't actually notice any shoe-related discomfort, and, despite D.C. not being a "walking" city, I'll bet I'm not the only one.
Which is not to say I haven't worn thongs in the House or the Senate OB's- but mine were generally heeled and beaded and that was so not this season. I mean, given the uproar over a bunch of lacrosse players wearing flip flops not so long ago, you would think younger women might've realized that the old folks weren't so into the thongs as formal footwear thing.
The really stupid thing about this incident is that, unless the Capitol Police are requiring you put your shoes through (which is a random and annoying occurrence and seemingly most often perpetrated by the newbies), one does not actually need to put one's shoes through the metal detectors on the Hill. You just have to walk through in one, big medium-paced step, as I'm always told (which is not easy to do in heels with relatively short legs). The other stupid thing about this scenario is... what did she do thereafter? Walk around carrying the pumps or with them sticking out of her bag? Totally tacky.
So, yes, I feel that if one is going to bring cute shoes they should be worn despite discomfort when attending meetings -- or, hell, just pay the money to buy shoes that are both cute and not wretchedly uncomfortable (even if it's just one pair). If you can't manage to wear the cute shoes and walk the office halls without having to change into flip flops at the door of the building, accept that you cannot rock the cute shoes, buy more comfortable ones, and call it a day, please. No one wants to smell the sweaty feet stank from your shoe-filled purse when you pull out your business card for a meeting.
How much time do lobbyists actually spend in lobbies, as opposed to hallways, doorways, aisles, etc.? And are there smoking and non-smoking sections in the tobacco lobby?
Well, assuming we disregard any time I walk through a lobby on my way somewhere (as opposed to hanging out in one, like some hooker in Vegas), I spend virtually no time in lobbies. These days, if you want to corral a Member on the way to a vote, you stand on the sidewalk outside the Capitol (on a nice day, or course) between the office building and the entrance. They all know we'll be standing there, and can either be nice or deliberately blow us off, so you kinda know how someone is about to vote. Those that don't want you to know, or who are too damn old to walk across the street, or who are too fucking important to walk, either take the tunnels, use the subway or make their staff drive them across the street.
Actually, lots of tobacco lobbyists don't smoke these days -- hello? It's bad for your health.
In an article you linked to a while back, it quoted a lobbyist who stated, in part, "'We ought to do what we do best,' he said. 'Retribution on people who voted against us.'" Sorry for being such a neophyte, but how exactly does a lobbyist seek retribution and what form(s) does it take?
Well, it sort of depends on the lobbyist. I personally like to talk shit about other people- this is a gossipy town, and I'm a great collector of good gossip, so if someone pisses me off, I'm more than happy to add an embarrassing but funny anecdote about them to my standard cocktail party conversation.
But, what the guy in the article meant was not quite as innocuous as telling other people who got hair plugs or new boobs or bad Restylane or got caught out on a date by his girlfriend or something. He's talking about cutting off political donations (i.e., a politician's lifeblood), or running ads against Members in their districts to try to convince voters that they suck, or siccing a phone bank of crazies on their staff so that they can't get any real work done. That's considered actual retribution on Members, but it's not really any fun to do (from my perspective) and doesn't involve drinking, so I don't really care. I expect them to dick me over, so I don't really take it so personally.