Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Obama administration is "bewitched by language."

The New Republic's John Judis says:

The Obama administration continues to have trouble filling positions because of the ironclad rules it has installed to keep lobbyists from holding positions where they have authority over issues on which they once lobbied. According to the New York Times, the latest casualty is Tom Malinowski, the advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. Malinowski is barred from holding a human rights post in the administration because he lobbied for human rights.

In defending these stances, administration officials insist they are not going to make “value judgments” or that if they allow one lobbyist in the door, they’ll have to let them all in. But appointing officials is precisely a matter of making value judgments, and in this case, the administration’s judgments are being hampered by a self-imposed orthodoxy based on the uncritical use of the term “lobbyist.” The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein would say they are being “bewitched by language.”
Click the link for a brief history of lobbying in America, and how the Obama administration is failing to learn the lessons of that history.

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