December 21, 2009 - 8:00am
What politicians say to get elected can come back to haunt them and vilifying the lobbyist profession to score campaign points is going to do that to President Barack Obama, according to MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-anchor Joe Scarborough.
Scarborough appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Dec. 20 broadcast of “Americana” with host Matt Frei and explained how Obama’s 2007 pledge to not hire lobbyists isn’t necessarily a good policy.
“Listen, the Obama administration is in trouble right now,” Scarborough said. “We got a lot of friends in the Obama administration right now and they’re in trouble because Barack Obama made promises during the 2008 campaign that he would not allow lobbyists to work in his White House. Well sometimes you want lobbyists working in your White House. You want lobbyists working in Congress. You want lobbyists working for the city of Houston, Texas, because you don’t get that job as lobbyist because you got a good smile. You get the job as lobbyist because you understand an issue better than everybody else.”
Scarborough referred specifically to Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who he claimed was the president’s second choice and he couldn’t have his first choice, former South Dakota senator and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, because of that pledge. Scarborough explained it has turned out badly for the administration and Emanuel will be fired, or asked to leave over the next year (emphasis added).
“And so Barack Obama, who wanted to pick Tom Daschle as his chief of staff, but couldn’t do that because the former majority leader for the U.S. Senate was a lobbyist, had to pass him up and go to Rahm Emanuel,” Scarborough said. “And I think history will show, after Rahm Emanuel is fired over the next year, or asked politely to leave – that that was disastrous.”
Scarborough said bashing lobbyists has been a tactic used often to score political points, but it’s still a part of how the federal government works.
“It may help elected mayors, openly gay mayors in Houston and it may make Barack Obama feel self-righteous, and it may elect, you know it may help John McCain, it may help everybody, but you know my attitude is grow up,” Scarborough said. “It is part of the fabric of Washington, D.C.”
And he said there are times when lobbyists serve an important function for local communities and business, which then they are deemed appropriate.
“It’s kind of like I was a lawyer before I got into Congress and it always stuck me that everybody hated lawyers except their own,” Scarborough said. “And everybody’s own lawyers are great. ‘Oh, I got the greatest lawyer.’ Well it’s the same thing with lobbyists. Everybody hates a lobbyist unless you want to keep something out of your neighborhood. Or unless you want something, you know, a break for your small business and then suddenly lobbyists are the most wonderful thing in the world.”
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