PAC appeal


George F. Will’s interesting column, on the race to fill the open seat in Colorado’s seventh district, brought to mind a piece of paper that crossed my desk a few weeks back. It’s a fax, much like the dozens of others that are sent each week to the offices of Washington’s lobbying firms and Political Action Committee directors, asking the insiders in the corridors of power to pony up money.

First the Will column: If I can give a Cliff notes version of it, it goes something like, “A true Reaganite conservative is facing a Republican base demoralized by Congress’ big spending, President Bush’s big spending and missteps (i.e., Harriet Miers abortive Supreme Court nomination), but still might win because the bitter primary fight between the two Democratic hopefuls, Ed Perlmutter and Peggy Lamm, are wearing each other out in the run up to the August 8th primary.

Now to the fax, and what it says about Washington’s mercenary culture of influence and access. The top line reads, PAC UPDATE CO-7 OPEN SEAT, followed by Excerpts from the Denver Post 3/20/06, from an article entitled, “Dem’s battle may leave scar.” The first paragraph reads:

In one of the nation’s most watched races, Ed Perlmutter and Peggy Lamm could be in store for a bruising primary fight, while their GOP foe focuses only on November.

Other highlighted passages include,

Democratic powerhouses Peggy Lamm and Ed Perlmutter already are showing signs that they may do so much damage to each other in a bloody primary battle, political observers say, that their Republican opponent, Rick O’Donnell, will have little to do besides plan his victory party.

And so on. When trying to appeal to Washington’s lobbyists and PAC leaders, the lure is not one’s abilities as a lawmaker or the rightness of one’s positions, but rather one’s nearness to power. Being a true blue Reaganite–or a true blue Clintonite or Carterite, for that matter–is as relevant as whether one prefers red wine to white to the PAC leaders and lobbyists. Which is why, when members court them, they don’t bother noting their lofty principles–rather they list the price of admission.