“Community Organizer” sounds better than “Lobbyist”


So time and time again I have heard the comment – regarding Barack Obama – , “What is a community organizer?” It has that sound of importance, of artificiality, but underneath, feels a little hollow… a “What the?” moment. A summary of Obama’s ‘community organizing’ can be found at The Nation. My summary is that a community organizing in the mold struck by Obama, is someone who jumps on a ‘problem’ in a neighborhood, gets people together, informs that that they had a problem, and told them that they didn’t like it (this is the Saul Alinsky model), and then works to try and get the government to fix the ‘problem.’ They also get paid to do it by a sponsoring organization. Obama granted, did not paid much, he was young, inexperienced, learning as he went, so what could he expect?

To me it sounds like a lobbyist. However, that term would cloud the issue for Obama, and would detract from his attacks on McCain’s lobbyists. Just like lawyer found a way for Bill Clinton to pivot truth on the definition of the word ‘is’, so does Barack lay out criticism based on HIS definition of lobbyist. In Barack’s world the word ‘lobbyist’ has a very narrow definition. It is solely posited as those registered Washington lobbyists. A Columbia Journalism Review article by Trudy Lieberman, describes how Obama certainly is taking money from lobbyists. An article by Scott Helman, of the Boston Globe also highlights how his Illinois campaigns were painted green with money from lobbyists.

In Obama’s eight years in the Illinois Senate, from 1996 to 2004, almost two-thirds of the money he raised for his campaigns — $296,000 of $461,000 — came from PACs, corporate contributions, or unions, according to Illinois Board of Elections records. He tapped financial services firms, real estate developers, healthcare providers, oil companies, and many other corporate interests, the records show.

Obama’s history of lobbyist money is sticking like proverbial excrement to his boots, and as he walks  the campaign trail, the smell of his past lobbyist associations is leaving an odor that something is amiss. An article from CNN states “Obama joined the growing effort to lobby the city to remove the asbestos from public housing.” In addition it reveals that he trained people to be government lobbyists, “he taught residents of Chicago’s poor South Side how to effectively lobby their government to get badly needed services.”

Now, one can rightly argue that these lobbying efforts were a good thing. I have now information to decide whether his early work was beneficial or an example of attempts to induce wasteful government spending. My belief though is that if we laid out these events, we would still have disagreements on that point. You see, lobbying is not necessarily an evil in and of itself, it is the issue at hand and the smell (going back to my earlier analogy) that it lets off that is of concern.

However, it would seem that Obama is rhetorically trying to separate himself from the lobbyist community entirely. The impression he would have us believe as he campaigns is that he is above ALL all campaign monies coming from lobbyist sources. The effort to install a neon halo of a ‘clean campaign’ is evident in his speeches, and media ads, however his roots as a community organizer/lobbyist, and his whole political career shows that he indeed is in the gutter with them, walking in the… well the analogy works here to.

That is if you truly believe lobbyists are indeed the evil he portrays them to be.

Other reading:

Link to Boston Globe article: PACs and lobbyists aided Obama’s rise

The Columbia Journalism Review: Obama’s Lobbyist Line

Obama and Axelrod the – Obama’s Lobbyists Connection

The Weekly Standard: David Axelrod, Lobbyist

In Illinois, Obama dealt with lobbyists

The Hill reveals the stealthy profile kept by Obama lobbyists: Obama’s K Street project

Newsweek notices Obama’s Lobbyist Connection [Karl]

Obama’s lobbyist problem: David Axelrod

More on Obama’s hypocrisy regarding lobbyists

New Politics?



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