Is Influence Peddling Now an Obstacle to the Presidency?

More

Freddie Mac is playing an unexpectedly big a role in the GOP primary -- and that's a good thing.



In the clip above from Thursday evening's GOP debate, Michele Bachmann attacks Newt Gingrich over his $1.6 million payday from Freddie Mac. By now, everyone following the campaign knows that the former House Speaker's lobbying is a liability as he seeks the nomination.

What I wonder is whether this is a special case. Influence-peddling might not be an issue if not for the financial crisis and the right's insistence on pinning the bulk of the blame on federally sponsored entities that helped inflate the housing bubble. Being tied to Freddie Mac is unique.

But maybe the Tea Party deserves credit for the tendency of people like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann to challenge insider cronyism and the revolving door. It would be a good thing if, going forward, politicians face greater scrutiny for how they earn their living once they leave office, and are objects of sustained derision if they're seen to profit off their time in government.

It seems as though Gingrich was careful to avoid having to actually register as a lobbyist after he left Congress. And perhaps more political players will now be careful to avoid even the appearance that they're selling influence. That's hardly going to solve the problem of the revolving door. Lots of folks leave the House or staff positions without any aspiration for higher office.

Even so, cultural shifts have to start somewhere.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In