Meanwhile, Political Consultants Are Still Horrible

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 13 2012 2:09 PM

Meanwhile, Political Consultants Are Still Horrible

Why should liberals have to answer for Hilary Rosen? I'm not saying Democrats shouldn't have to answer for her, mind you. Rosen (or some identitically named person) visited the Obama White House 35 times, and she was one of the consultants hired to tune up Debbie Wasserman Schultz's messaging. But Rosen seems to be a uniquely awful representative of a uniquely awful class of people: Roving political strategists. This is not a statement on her, personally. She seems perfectly warm and friendly. She's just chosen the line of work that makes people dry heave at the word "Washington." It was this item in Politico's Influence newsletter that convinced me.

At the State Dinner in March, Rosen attended with her client John Kelly of Microsoft.
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Bringing a client along to a state dinner is a particularly tacky misuse of access, isn't it? But as Politico's Ben White had reported, and as Lee Fang followed on, the Rosen/SDR Knickerbocker way is to use political access and connections to lobby without officially lobbying. The consultant currently being roasted as an icon of snobby anti-woman liberalism was (and is) at a firm using Democratic ties to lobby on behalf of for-profit education, and to lobby against new nutritional standards. Have I mentioned Rosen's work at the RIAA? Oh, well, now I have.

As a CNN analyst, Rosen's commentary was/is so bland you might use it to cut the flavor of tofu. Exceptions: Rosen was/is a very convincing advocate for good-natured lobbyists! A couple of months ago, she took the "pro" side, pitted against Dana Milbank, for a lobbyist the Obama administration was ready to break its campaign vow in order to hire.

Here's the other thing, which is, this kind of stigma about lobbyists. First of all, I personally think this whole issue is kind of silly. Because, guess what, you want to have people who know how to get stuff done... he was a lobbyist then years prior to 2008. But since then, he has not lobbied. Which is the rule. Two years of no lobbying. So that means that you get all of the benefit of the experience of a lobbyist, without the current corporate ties. And that's an important thing. Steve Ricchetti is a good guy. This is kind of a -- you know, a crazy thing to be taking off after him for.

He was a good guy, you know? Debate, over. Rosen wasn't an "Obama adviser" when this happened, but she was working with people who'd parlayed their work for Obama into lucrative lobbying-but-not-by-name careers. And this was who ended up representing all Democrats in a silly late prime time debate.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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