Obama, Big Business, Lobbyists, and the media perception 

A Fortune piece over the weekend discusses the closeness of the Obama administration and Google, and how many Obama policies would profit the software giant. But the article presents this closeness as an anomaly. Check the lead:

No one can accuse President Barack Obama of cozying up to corporate America.

From his denunciations of Wall Street greed to his critiques of the auto manufacturers, Obama and his team have done little to disguise their mistrust of big business -- except when it comes to one very large, very influential technology company. [h/t Timothy Lee.]

This in-an-interesting-twist or strange bedfellows theme shows up so much in coverage of Obama and business, you would think it would cease being interesting, and that this affair would cease seeming strange. Obama played the strange-bedfellows card in May, pushing his subsidy-and-regulation package for automakers. The president also likes to tout how "even the drug companies" support his health-care overhaul.

Yet still, it strikes writers as exceptional every time they notice Big Business supporting Obama's Big Government plans, an alliance we've seen in tobacco regulation, global warming, health care, cash for clunkers, clean energy, stem-cell funding, stimulus, telecom, and more.

That's not to say Obama doesn't ever do battle with Big Business and K Street lobbyists. He's currently in a flap with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which differs from General Electric, Duke Energy, Nike, Apple, and many of its largest members over climate legislation. When the Washington Post covers this flap today, the paper then goes far beyond the facts at hand and throws around general claims. Considering all the Obama-K-Street and Obama-Big-Business alliances we've seen, the last few paragraphs of Michael D. Shear's piece made my eyes pop out of my head:

the clash between the Chamber and the White House is a clear indication that Obama intends to challenge the power of lobbyists.

During his presidential campaign, Obama vowed to "tell Washington, and their lobbyists, that their days of setting the agenda are over." And just a month into office, he said in a radio address that "the system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don't. I work for the American people."

That sentiment has run into a massive lobbying presence in Washington which is fighting back against the president's push for health-care reform, his climate change legislation and his plans to regulate the financial sector.

But Obama is fighting back, too, by seeking to meet directly with business leaders and by verbally calling out groups such as the Chamber for their reliance on big-time lobbying.

The man is siding with General Electric, which has spent more than any other company on lobbying, and he gets credit for battling lobbyists? How long will the Post continue to believe Obama's narrative of himself?

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Timothy P. Carney

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