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by Paul R. Hollrah, ©2013
(Aug. 10, 2013) — Those who say that baseball is America’s national pastime are dead wrong. While a few hundred sports writers and a few million people may be focused on the battle between baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Yankee star Alex Rodriguez, trying to figure out whether or not Selig will be able to make A-Rod’s 211-game suspension stick, far more Americans are focused on the fact that Washington just doesn’t work anymore.
Even those who pay very little attention to the day-to-day goings-on in the nation’s capitol had to sit up and take notice back in March 2010, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, in reference to the 2,300 page Affordable Care Act, Obama’s principal legislative accomplishment, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it…” Was she telling us that the once-honorable process of legislating has become nothing more than a game of “grab bag?”
Those of us who’ve worked in and around Washington for many years are fully aware of how the place operates and how things get done on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. As German Chancellor Otto von Bismark once said, “Those who love sausage and obey the law should not watch either being made.” Watching the lawmaking process from afar is merely disturbing; watching the process up close is another matter, entirely.
The federal government has become so big and so unmanageable that no individual member of Congress can know or understand what is being proposed on a day-to-day basis. Few members are able to read even those bills that emanate from the committees they serve on, much less the bills that are produced by other committees. No one in Congress reads even a fraction of the bills introduced and voted on.
As of 2009, members of the House were allowed to hire up to 18 full-time and four part-time staff employees. Because of differences in the size and population of states, the Senate has no such restrictions. The greatest number of those staff people are called legislative assistants. Their job it is to read and digest legislative proposals and advise their members on the pros and cons of bills that make it out of committee and onto the floor of the House and Senate for consideration.
But the Congressional staff is small and efficient when compared to the cabinet departments and other agencies of government. So who are all these nameless, faceless people who play such a significant role in our daily lives? Each year, as tens of thousands of congressional staff and bureaucrats retire or go on to jobs in the private sector, tens of thousands more arrive by plane, train, or bus, eager to make a place for themselves in the halls of power. Most have never held a real job in the private sector and come equipped with nothing more than a document showing that they’ve earned a degree from an accredited college or university.
For many, those who arrive in Washington without reliable political connections, their first stop is the bulletin boards located in the foyers of the many small restaurants and cafes on Capitol Hill. From those small scraps of paper tacked to the bulletin boards, they jot down names and telephone numbers of people seeking roommates.
The employer of the first roommate is unimportant. What is important is that the first roommate have a full-time job in the Congress or at an agency of the federal bureaucracy. That’s where the job search begins, and as the weeks pass and the newbie expands his/her social network through nightly parties and drinking sessions on Capitol Hill or in Georgetown, the job opportunities begin to develop. That’s how it’s done. All that is needed to become a functioning part of the ruling class is a freshly-minted college diploma, a bit of ambition, and enough money from mom and dad to provide living expenses until a job is found and the first paycheck comes in the door.
Job advancement in Washington is fast and fairly indiscriminate. Let’s take a look at just two examples from the Obama administration.
By now we’ve all become acquainted with a red-haired young woman named Jennifer “Jen” Psaki, the new spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State. Psaki replaces Victoria “Toria” Nuland, a central figure in the drafting of the talking points used by Barack Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to lie to the American people about the roots of the attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. So, who is Jen Psaki? What are her credentials? What background and experience does she have that makes her capable of being the voice and the face of the U.S. State Department?
Just seventeen years ago, in 1996, Psaki graduated from Greenwich High School, in Connecticut. She enrolled at the College of William & Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia, graduating in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. During her college career she was a backstroke specialist on the William & Mary women’s swim team.
Within weeks after graduation, Psaki was employed by a Democratic campaign consultant and was sent to Iowa to work on the reelection campaigns of Senator Tom “Dung Heap” Harkin and Gov. Tom Vilsack. When Harkin and Vilsack were reelected in 2002, she moved to Washington where she took a job as communications director in the office of Cong. Joseph Crowley (D-NY).
During Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign she served as deputy press secretary, acting as spokeswoman for Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the Kerry children, and Kerry’s disgraced running mate, Sen. John Edwards (D-NC). When Kerry was defeated in November 2004, Psaki returned briefly to her job as communications director for Cong. Crowley. Then, as Democrats prepared for the 2006 mid-term elections, Psaki went to work for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, working directly under future White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, as the committee’s press secretary for the Midwest and Northeast regions.
Less than a year later, as Obama assembled a campaign organization to seek the presidency, Psaki relied on her friendship with Rahm Emanuel to land a job as deputy press secretary in the Obama campaign, serving as Obama’s traveling press secretary. After more than a year in that position she moved to the White House as deputy assistant to the president, and on December 19, 2009, she was named deputy communications director, serving in that capacity until 2011.
In September 2011, Psaki left the White House briefly to become senior vice president and managing director of a Washington lobbying and PR firm, Global Strategy Group. In 2012 she returned to the campaign trail as press secretary for the Obama reelection campaign. Then, on February 11, 2013, she replaced Toria Nuland as spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State. The point is, I have socks in my dresser drawer that have been around longer than Jen Psaki. Nevertheless, with White House press secretary Jay Carney having used up every ounce of his credibility, lying for Obama, Psaki now waits in line to be Obama’s next liar-in-chief.
Another case in point is Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s principal brain trust and functional president of the United States. So who, and what, is Valerie Jarrett? As described by The Daily Caller, “Jarrett’s official title… senior adviser and assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement… doesn’t begin to do justice to her unrivaled status in the White House. She is Ground Zero in the Obama operation… the first couple’s first friend and consigliere, the last person to leave the Oval Office after meetings and the only White House official who dines with the first family in their private quarters at night.”
Jarrett is the quintessential Chicago ward politician. In 1987, six years after graduating from the University of Michigan School of Law, she went to work in the administration of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Continuing to work in the mayor’s office, she was deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard Daley in 1991 when she hired Michelle Robinson, who later became Mrs. Barack Obama. She served as commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development from 1992 through 1995 and was head of the Chicago Transit Board from 1995 to 2005. Between 2005 and November 2008, when she joined the Obamas in the White House, she served as CEO of The Habitat Company, as chairman of the Chicago Stock Exchange, as chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center, as vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago, as a trustee of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, and as a director of USG Corporation, a Chicago-based building materials corporation.
Jarrett’s resume is an impressive one, but one that hardly qualifies her to function as commander-in-chief, reportedly ordering the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs not to send military assistance to rescue the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans, when a disinterested and incompetent commander-in-chief went to bed to rest up for a strenuous day of fundraising in Las Vegas, knowing that the lives of American diplomats were endangered.
Yes, whether in the Olympic-size pool at William & Mary or in the putrid waters of Democrat Party politics, these women are both swimmers. And now that they’ve both reached the pinnacle of their success, they find themselves as paid liars for the most corrupt administration in history, and happily so. Both women paddled like hell, striving for personal success, but ended up in support of a cause that is not worthy of anyone’s time or effort.
Jen Psaki, Valerie Jarrett, and tens of thousands just like them… people with tremendous power and influence, but with little or no real-world experience… are glaring examples of what is wrong with Washington.