Michael Kinsley has a good piece in the Washington Post today about the recently departed Anne Wexler, whose death has been widely mourned in Washington media circles. Wexler started out her career as an anti-Vietnam War activist and campaigner for Eugene McCarthy in 1968, and ended up as a lobbyist for a broad swath of the Fortune 500. As Kinsley wrote:
And what is wrong with this? After all, the Constitution guarantees each of us the right to petition our government for the redress of our grievances. Plenty is wrong. First, there is nothing in this list of services about determining which side of a legislative dispute happens to be correct before jumping in on the side that has hired you. Second, if the lobbyists’ claims about being able to affect the outcome of political disputes are even close to being true, this tilts democracy in favor of those who can afford to hire them. And third, what a waste of a lot of smart people’s time! What might Anne Wexler have accomplished for causes that she really believed in if she hadn’t spent the last three decades of her life taking on any cause that walked in the door with a checkbook in hand?
I once wrote about how Wexler and her partner, former congressman Robert Walker, had written a skit for a client called the National Franchise Association (NFA), which represents Burger King operators. Here’s an excerpt:
(To the tune of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”)
Congressman, senator we’ve formed a PAC.
Now we can act, no need for tact,
Pooling resources makes very good sense
So we formed a little PAC.
When NFA’s membership starts to pitch in,
Growing the fund, access begins.
Should ever a congressman put up his guard
The PAC is our calling card…
Any lawmaker ignoring our PAC
Risks being fried like a Big Mac.
Working together’s the tried and true way to
Deliver the facts, give pats on the back
Favors attract, enemies sacked
Through NFA’s brand new PAC!