Barack Obama and his campaign has spent most of the spring and summer demonizing lobbyists, especially those who work for the oil industry and those who now work for John McCain. Now, however, lobbying is A-OK at Team Obama, as their new foreign-policy adviser, David Shapiro, also lobbies for the American Petroleum Institute, the main lobbying organization for what Democrats like Obama call “Big Oil” (via Matt Lewis):
Signaling an intensified effort to compete for the Jewish vote, the Obama campaign appointed Daniel Shapiro as a senior policy adviser and Jewish outreach coordinator on Tuesday.
Shapiro, who has long advised the campaign on issues connected to the Jewish community and Middle East policy, is taking on a heightened role as the campaign ramps up its staff ahead of the Democratic convention and the general election race this fall. …
Shapiro, who accompanied Obama on his recent trip to Israel, has worked as a Washington lobbyist as well as in several Congressional offices and the National Security Council during the Clinton administration. A former deputy chief of staff to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida), he has also been a staff adviser to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Lee Hamilton (D-Indiana).
Hey, Shapiro also has an indirect connection to …. Cindy McCain? Like Jim Johnson, Shapiro also has ties to Freddie Mac, which the Fed had to rescue from its incompetence:
Daniel Shapiro, one of Obama’s foreign policy advisers on the Middle East, registered to lobby for several corporate clients in the last year, since leaving the office of Rep. Bill Nelson (D-Fla). Shapiro, who worked during the 1990s for President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council, counts some of America’s biggest corporate names among his clients, including beermaker Anheuser-Busch, carmaker Daimler Chrysler, the American Petroleum Institute and Freddie Mac.
As I have written in the past, lobbyists represent Americans to an increasingly distant Congress. There is nothing inherently wrong with lobbying, and in fact is an activity explicitly protected by the First Amendment. Lobbyists who act unethically and illegally should rightly get investigated, prosecuted, and jailed for any corrruption they commit or cause to occur, but demonizing the process of petitioning Congress is simply wrong. If politicians want to curtail the influence of lobbyists, the most effective method open to them is to limit the reach of the federal government and thereby reduce the spoils that fuel lobbyists.
For those politicians who use populist demagoguery to demonize lobbyists, though, the act of making lobbyists their closest advisers represents a special kind of hypocrisy. That doubles when the same politician routinely demonizes the industry that employed the lobbyist, and increases exponentially when said lobbyist worked for several industries castigated by the candidate.
Obama has shrieked about the oppressive nature of Big Oil and the failures of Freddie Mac and the entire housing and lending industry. What does it say about Obama that he hired a man who represented both as a lobbyist? It looks like a great demonstration of that old Western aphorism: All hat, no cattle.