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House Dems' Staggering Work of Incomprehensible Stupidity

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I have no problem with Democrats doing what they need to do to raise money to fight the good fight against Republicans. Until we get a publicly financed elections system in this country, one party cannot unilaterally disarm from fundraising. But, we all should have a BIG problem with Democrats actually deliberately planting stories in the press about how they are running around Washington, D.C. shaking down corporate lobbyists for cash. To do that, as Democrats are doing, is so incomprehensibly stupid it's hard to even put words together to describe it. But, then, you can bet that the "strategists" in the D.C. Democratic Establishment think this is the way to win elections.

Today's example is in Roll Call. House Democrats, who have attacked the GOP's "culture of corruption," deliberately placed a story in Roll Call headlined "House Democrats Redouble Wooing of K Street." The story was likely placed by the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), as he is front and center bragging about the effort. Here's the excerpt:

"A House Democratic project designed to dip into deep K Street wallets entered its second phase of the 2006 cycle Tuesday, as a group of prominent moderate Members enlisted business donors to shell out thousands of dollars to help the party's top-tier candidates. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), along with Reps. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), John Tanner (Tenn.) and Ellen Tauscher (Calif.), met Tuesday afternoon with roughly 50 business-minded Democratic consultants, lobbyists and corporate officers to get them to commit to writing checks to their most worthy party hopefuls next year. The same group spent the better half of 2005 raising money from the same set of donors for the most vulnerable House Democratic incumbents. 'House Democrats are in a good position to make significant gains in next year's election, so it's an important time to work with our friends downtown to remind them we have common goals and that they have a stake in helping to elect Democrats,' Hoyer said."

In case you thought that Democrats aren't deliberately publicizing their efforts to shakedown corporate lobbyists - just look at Steny Hoyer's taxpayer-funded Minority Whip website (linked below). Members of Congress always put up stories promoting themselves - and here, incredibly, Hoyer is actually promoting a story about his work setting up a formalized system of legalized bribery - as if the story itself is a trophy to be flaunted. That story notes that Hoyer regularly holds "listening sessions with lobbyists, trade association heads and corporate executives." And the lobbyists love it. Said one insurance industry lobbyist, "It's important for us in industry to have folks in the House Democratic leadership who want to hear from us." Said a corporate lobbyist who used to be a Hoyer staffer, "I think lobbyists in the business community are interested in getting to know the Democratic leadership."

Remember, this is not Roll Call "digging up" these story - Roll Call is a lot of things, but it's no investigative news hound. This is Democrats actively going out of their way to pitch stories about their efforts to shakedown corporate America - all at a time when they are also trying to berate the Republican's "culture of corruption." I mean, really - is this some sort of weird joke where the Democrats are actually doing the Republicans' "hypocrisy" attack ads for them?

Seriously, folks - what in god's name is wrong with these people? How absolutely idiotic do you have to be to be a House member or staffer, sit around and plot media "strategy" and then come up with this? And then, when we lose another election, it will be these same professional election losers who will go on television and say they cannot understand why Democrats keep losing elections.

Perhaps this gives us a clue into why Democrats have run their own party into the ground over the last decade. Because for every story of a courageous Member of Congress like Nancy Pelosi (D) and George Miller (D) resisting corporate influences, or someone like Dave Obey (D) pushing a real crackdown on lobbying abuses, we get self-serving, self-promoting, selfish Democrats pushing stories like today's. Again, I have no problem with the party having to fundraise in a currently imperfect system - but to go out and actively try to get stories about a corporate shakedown operation is just plain pathetic.

Make no mistake about it - in order to pursue a media strategy like this, you have to be wholly out of touch with ordinary people and the real world. Not sort of out of touch - totally and completely out of touch with how to communicate with voters, how to win elections, and what politics is supposed to be about. You have to have spent so much time in the greasy, slimy, odious halls of power rubbing elbows with this or that lobbyist that you can't even remember what it's like to talk to real people out in the country.

Oh, to be sure - there's a bunch of Democratic staffers and House Members on Capitol Hill today high-fiving about these stories about raking in corporate cash. Yes, they are patting themselves on the back for what they think is great media "strategy," but this isn't strategy, it's one thing and one thing only: incomprehensible stupidity.

-Roll Call on House Democrats working to shakedown corporate lobbyists
-hoyer" target="_blank">Hoyer brags on his official website about setting up a "K Street Project"
-Pelosi and Miller courageously work to resist influence of corporate lobbyists
obey courageously pushes crackdown on lobbying abuses
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David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)

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