Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Golden Rules & Revolutions: A Series - IV

April 15, 2008, 6:50 a.m.

Today is the fourth in a series, "Golden Rules & Revolutions." Here are the prior entries:

I - Income Disparity & Revolution
, April 12, 2008
. "Series Introduction," "Increasing income disparity, despair. . .," ". . . and Revolution"

II - Golden Rules & Fascism, April 13, 2008
. "The Golden Rule," "Fascism"

III - Money and Lobbyists in Politics: Washington, April 14, 2008

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Presidential Candidates and Lobbyists: McCain

Part I of this series noted not just the gap in income between the rich and the poor, but the fact that this gap is continuing to grow ever wider, and that history -- as well as the daily news -- provides ample warning that this condition often produces revolution.

Part II began the exploration of the forces that may be shaping these potentially dangerous conditions -- including the ties between business and government eerily reminiscent of the early stages of what we used to call "fascism."

Part III took us to Washington for some general descriptions of how the system works, what campaign contributors get for their money, the role of lobbyists, and a columnist's description of one case study.

Part IV deals with how the role of lobbyists extends beyond their manipulation of government into the pre-governing phase: presidential campaigns -- beginning with Senator John McCain.

Given the $2.79 billion that the special interests spend on lobbyists, as discussed in Part III, and the the millions and billions of dollars the special interests "invest" in "campaign contributions" (in state legislatures as well as Congress, and among the best investments these businesses ever make), it comes as no surprise that both lobbyists and campaign contributions also play a major role in the way we select our president.

So why begin the discussion of this issue with Senator John McCain? There are two reasons.

(1) If you haven't yet paid a lot of attention to Senator McCain, you might want to tune in to tonight's Chris Matthews' "Hardball." Here are the details from cable channel MSNBC:

"Hardball with Chris Matthews" brings its take-no-prisoners style to the college circuit once again, as the "Hardball College Tour" hosts Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., live at Villanova University, Tuesday, April 15, 5-6 p.m. ET (repeats 7-8 p.m. ET). Matthews will interview Sen. McCain on the key issues of the 2008 presidential election, including the economy and the Iraq war, with Villanova students also having the opportunity to question the candidate.
Cathy Finkler, "McCain to appear on 2008 Hardball College Tour," MSNBC Hardblogger, March 17, 2008 4:43 p.m. (Note: Since this was written a month ago you might want to confirm the details of cable channel number and times with your local listings.)

(2) Senator John McCain is the first example, not because he is the worst but because he is among the best. Senator McCain has provoked the ire of his colleagues because of his tough stands on reform of campaign finance, earmarks, and the role of Washington lobbyists. And yet . . .

[W]hen McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington's lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways.

Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O' Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae.

McCain's relationship with lobbyists became an issue this week after it was reported that his aides asked Vicki Iseman, a telecom lobbyist, to distance herself from his 2000 presidential campaign because it would threaten McCain's reputation for independence.
Michael D. Shear and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists," Washington Post, February 22, 2008, p. A1.

As you've been warned, when it comes to taking on big money in politics, Senator John McCain is among the best the U.S. Senate can offer. In Part V we'll look at one of the worst.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These are the sorts of things that the New York Times should have emphasized in that article about McCain, at least until they can offer more evidence of his speculative extramarital affairs.