Michael Barone

That's why I was pleased to see Clinton defend lobbying not only for those whom her Democratic audience considers good interests (nurses, social workers) but those they don't (corporations). Implicitly, she's rejecting the distinction made by the head of the Humane Society of the United States, who recently contrasted "special interest lobbyists" (presumably those working for profit-making interests) with "socially responsible lobbyists" (those working for nonprofits). But even lobbyists for nonprofits have a monetary motive: to keep their (often six-figure) salaries flowing in.

Yes, K Street is not perfect. Old entrenched interests tend to be well represented. New and growing industries and morally motivated constituencies that are unorganized tend to be underrepresented. The high-tech industry figured it could get along without much representation in Washington until Microsoft got slapped with an antitrust suit a decade ago. Now, it hires lobbyists in droves.

Not much of this will change in a McCain or Obama administration. The campaigns currently are embarrassing themselves by stigmatizing lobbyists. Obama's initial choice to head his vice presidential selection committee was Jim Johnson, who as CEO of Fannie Mae in the 1990s ran one of the most effective lobbying operations in town. McCain has had at his side through the campaign Charlie Black, who was a very successful lobbyist for more than 20 years.

More important, both candidates are proposing healthcare, carbon emission and tax changes -- legislation that will, and should, face heavy lobbying. Which is fine: Such laws will have enormous ramifications, and everyone who wants to should chime in. Even -- if I can use that dreaded word again -- lobbyists.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM