Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Week and -- A Reflection on Media and Lobbies, the two "other" branches of Government

Activities this week -- Then an interesting reflection!

- Lunch with Dotty Lynch at CBS was WONDERFUL (more on it at the end)
- Went to Charlotte, visited my increasingly effervescent grandmother, Marilyn
Cooked: spinach, onion, and garlic-infused turkey meatballs
Baked sweet potatoes
Garlic Bread
Delicious, cheesy, butter cracker-crusted green bean casserole
Buttered Almond-toasted Salmon roast
Mixed salad greens
and... Pesto! Easily blended with walnuts, olive oil, some seasonings, basic, and parsley
*Please note that Robin (my brother's fiancee) and I make a GREAT cooking team
- Great drive back from Charlotte through the mountainous forest (or something like it)
- Babysat for little Dana on Monday night -- But:
In the process, got stuck behind the awful train collision. This was a very interesting and fortunate experience for me, as our jam packed train car (body-to-body) was stuck in a dark tunnel, lights are out, air conditioning is off. Everyone is complaining, sweating, completely unaware of how fortunate we were to be delayed rather than injured. The two-hour delay made me feel very lucky to be alive.
- Had lunch with a long-standing lobbying firm, the Duberstein Group -- very interesting (more on it at the end)
- Applied to be the United Students for Fair Trade (funded by the Tides Foundation) Southeast Regional Coordinator. I would serve on the national Coordinating Committee, and attend a summit in Nicaragua from July 29th-August 11th (my boss said this was okay to skip out early on the internship to attend). I spoke with one of the students running the committee, and she said I was highly qualified and no one else had applied for the position. So you may here some very good news from me very soon!
- Rest of the week is as follows:
Today -- Run from work to Senate office building for CAP Progressive Job Training
-- Try to hitch a ride to Anacostia for a UF game at 6 30
-- Hang out w/Jerry and watch "I love you, Man" -- I'll miss that cynical bastard.
Thursday -- 9 AM meeting with Sarah Doughton for Service Learning DC trip in January, at The Pilgrimage (awesomely cool service organization in DC)
-- After-work South African Fair Trade Wine-Tasting at the Embassy. I have to pretend to be important, basically. And free wine is a no-brainer!
-- Dinner with Sarah & company (I hope)
Friday --I'll be doing this -- for as long as I can, then taking up a week's worth of clothes and groceries about 10 miles east to Cheverly, a beautiful, quaint small town (hopefully getting a ride...). I'll be housesitting until the morning of July 4th. Woot!
Saturday -- 10 AM Special Holocaust tour w/the Harvard folks... and a private tour of the museum's new Genocide exhibit by the museum's Chair of the Committee of Conscience, Mike Abramowitz.
-- Exploring Cheverly with my new friend, the dog I'm taking care of (who's name I admittedly cannot remember... oh well.)
Sunday -- Cheverly farmers' market opening?? We shall see...

Reflection -- Media and Lobbies, the Two "Other" Branches of Government:

*to better understand how both of these relate to health care, lobbying, and capitalism as a whole, please read this wonderfully-long interview with Robert Reich. I've e-mailed him the reflection below and hope to hear from him soon.

So I was able to have wonderful conversation with Dotty Lynch and 10 other Harvard students at CBS HQ last Wednesday. She is a very open and personable woman, with years of experience behind Political Science research, campaign work, teaching at American University, and news corresponding. She has seen it all, from the beginning of Today in Washington news summaries, to the growth in poll reliability (amidst recent failures in even Presidential elections), to campaign news strategy.

Through our conversation, I feel that I now see media as such a vital role to government -- especially in elections. Media is an important dialogue, it is a vital (and profitable) outreach and advertising tool, and it can, at times, assist us in truly understanding (as a general and very distracted public) what is going on in Washington. I certainly was interested by our conversations about certain campaigns, about the semantics in reporting campaign polls and election results (as speedily and accurately as possible), and how she has experienced these all first-hand. It was fascinating, informative, and incredibly invaluable.
I do not think I want to follow her career path...not sure on this yet.

-----So yesterday I had lunch with the Duberstein Group with Ken Duberstein and the other heads (cannot remember their names, but they all looked pretty old and wealthy). These people are a relatively small lobbying firm, but have been in the business for over 20 years with clients that we come to know as the "bad guys". Exxon, Shell, Big Medical Insurers, airlines, BP, GM, the list goes on and on... all forking up hundreds of thousands to have their say towards politicians. Ken was Reagan's Chief of Staff, among other Executive and Legislative positions, and his partner was the recent-Bush's Assistant for Legislative Affairs. These guys know their stuff.

What is ironic is that Ken Duberstein is pretty left wing (on his left was the more leftist partner, on his right the former Bush appointee). It is ironic, at first, to think that these contrasting political affiliations and opinions can come together to do something we generally view with such a negative stigma. But it makes sense. Consensus = political and organizational functionality = employment = lots of $. So it is a logical progression, albeit a selfish one, for them to work together. It also makes sense that on Capitol Hill they've worked for republicans and democrats alike, making the appropriate contacts simply for the sake of making contacts so that they could be successful lobbyists. I don't see any ethics in there but certainly an abundance of capitalist logic.

Their work, I now understand, is pretty important federal political funcitonalism. It is almost a seeminlgy symbiotic relationship, our conversation convinced me of, among other things, that lobbyists retrieve, as a costly service, the arguments from certain economic and populus constituents. They organize the dialogue and deliver importantly trustworthy information to senators and congressman. In this regard, and out of Ken Duberstein's mouth, "The President is the most effective lobbyist there is". Money is always an issue. What is ironic, however, is that we usually assume that lobbyists are throwing money at the politicians for their favorable interest, but rather it is the other way around-- Ken gets at least 10 emails a day from congressman and senators asking for money... there's your irony. Also in terms of money, lobbyists have to play by the rules. They often times do not (Madhoff scandal, etc.) and in Ken's opinion, we will see a lot more scandals emerge over the next 6 months regarding the politicians and lobbyists who did not play by the rules.

I see that as a good thing.

I also understand this relationship much better, and how much of a powerful role it plays in campaigns and bills (before they even reach the floor!). Lobbying is truly another branch of government, but at this point, not one I want to work in. I certainly appreciate the value of these experiences that I am having and the lessons I have gained, but I am increasingly frustrated with the lack of connection that these careers have to my beliefs. I feel more ideologically distant, in some ways, than I ever have before. I have not yet decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Maybe some dam comments would help! If you have read this entirely-too-long blog then I would appreciate some feedback. Thank you!

No comments:

Post a Comment