The Blog

Obama's Army of Lobbyists

A new twist on the permanent campaign.

11:00 PM, Jan 21, 2009 • By GARY ANDRES
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President Obama faces institutional governing conditions ripe for success. Large majorities in the House and Senate and a solid electoral mandate all point in this direction. But public support for Obama is another key ingredient. And if past is prologue, permanent popularity is not guaranteed. Edwards quotes Lyndon Johnson as saying, "I keep hitting hard because I know this honeymoon won't last. Every day I lose a little more political capital."

But the new president's vision to build and sustain electoral capital earned last November includes a sardonic twist. Obama won in part by promising to end the power of lobbyists in Washington. So it's a little ironic that a candidate who prevailed by decrying the evils of the advocacy world hopes to bolster his presidency by deploying an army of his own lobbyists. And the president may quickly learn another Washington lesson: His legislative success may depend more on quiet negotiation, compromise, and building trust with Congress than mobilizing millions of noisy activists that try to arm-twist renegade lawmakers.

Gary Andres is vice chairman of research at Dutko Worldwide in Washington D.C. and is a regular contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD Online.