- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Obama transition team’s ban on lobbyist participation presents an early challenge to the president-elect’s credibility and competence.

Will the ban apply to lobbyists for unions, environmental groups and all the other self-proclaimed advocacy organizations in the burgeoning and mostly liberal “nonprofit” segment of the economy? Or will the ban exclude only the voices of those in the for-profit segment who create the wealth the president-elect wants to spread around? Whether the lobbyist ban is applied evenhandedly will test the sincerity of the president-elect’s promise to govern inclusively and fairly.

Just as worrisome: If the Obama administration does, in fact, evenhandedly exclude from appointment every person who has engaged in public dialogue on a national or international policy issue on behalf of any organization with an interest in the issue, the government will be run by appointees who know little or nothing about the issues of which they are appointed to provide leadership. Regimes like Russia, China and Cambodia tried to remove from the government everyone with the knowledge, education and training to run the government, and the results every time were disastrous.

I think most Americans of all political views would prefer a competent administration to one whose hallmark is merely that it is “lobbyist-free.”

The president-elect created this conundrum for himself in the first week of his transition. His ability to successfully navigate through this self-imposed problem will foretell his ability to successfully meet the many far-more-momentous challenges of his presidency.

MARK C. RUTZICK

Oak Hill, Va.

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