Last week, a writer at the liberal Mother Jones magazine noted that the former head of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) had cashed out to the largest private prison company -- which gets much of its revenue from contracts with the BOP.
This is tawdry, and it should probably be illegal for high-ranking government officials to go to work for major contractors. But MoJo's headline writers had an interesting word for the cashout: "Federal Prison Director Defects to Private Prison Company."
How is it a "defection" to go and work for a contractor? That word only makes sense if you believe that the private-sector prisons are somehow "on the other side" from government prisons. In other words, this headline betrays the pernicious and ubiquitous myth that Big Business and Big Government are rivals. It seems pretty clear to me that the two are allies. Belief that they are rivals gives them a free pass, and hampers the ability to fight the cartel and stick up for the little guy.
And many liberals, I think, have another blindspot when it comes to the revolving door: they think it's just a problem of Republicans and conservative Democrats cashing out. Again, this might be rooted in the belief that Big Business's agenda is one of relative laissez-faire -- a belief nobody should hold anymore after the bailouts and the Pharma-backed ObamaCare.
Back to Mother Jones. They have a piece today rightly contrasting the high-minded rhetoric of moderate Democrat Evan Bayh with his cynical cashout to be a lobbyist and a consultant. But what about the liberals who have cashed out.
Like that "Prairie Populist" Byron Dorgan who cashed out to K Street lobbying firm Arent Fox. According to their search engine, MoJo never mentioned that. In fact, I can't find his lobbyist wife "Kimberly Dorgan" in MoJo's search engine.
What about Chris Dodd, who has landed one of the highest-paying lobbying jobs in Washington, as the top Hollywood lobbyist? No mention of that on the MoJo website.
Mother Jones quoted liberal appropriator David Obey saying "I think our biggest failure collectively has been our failure to stop the ripoff of the middle class by the economic elite of this country, and this is not just something that happened because of the forces of the market." But they didn't mention it, as far as I could tell, when Obey cashed out to Dick Gephardt's lobbying firm that represents GE, Boeing, and Goldman Sachs.
Liberals need to ask themselves if they're serious in battling the corrossive effects of the revolving door. If so, they need to take a more honest look at its causes and effects. That includes naming names -- even the ones you like.