Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good is bad…and bad is good?

Tish Durkin makes an interesting case in The Week in defense of backroom deals. Durkin points to the fact that there was a time in our history when it was acceptable for legislators to attend parties thrown by lobbyists where congressmen and women from both sides of the aisle would have cocktails and conversation (possibly due to the cocktails) with each other. Durkin also argues that in the past when politicians went on foreign junkets they probably did not spend every minute of trip doing the work of the people. But they at least had the opportunity to get to know each other.

Durkin acknowledges that the perks afforded to members of Congress have been blatantly abused. The push to regulate such old-style political abuse was well intentioned. The consequences have had interesting unintended consequences.

Basically when it comes to Congress – it seems that if you let them do a little bad for themselves every once in a while they’ll do some good for everyone. Maybe if we moved the U.S. Capitol somewhere tropical and provide an open bar on the Chamber floor, Congress could get a little more of the nation’s business done.


  1. Can you imagine seeing Paul Ryan in a Speedo? Let's keep them far away from the margaritas and flip-flops!

    Okay, but to be serious. I too think that reforms on lobbying/parties/hobknobbing were well intentioned, but ultimately they were futile. "Networking" has been a staple of business and governance practice for decades (arguably even longer than that).

  2. It is surely an interesting point that is made by Durkin, I totally agree with you about that.
    But nevertheless have a serious problem with his overall argument. As it appears to me, he claims (as a reaction to Sen. Snow's retirement) that we obviously have to decide between accountability of our representatives and "getting the things done" by not being able to hold them accountable, although this is of course simplified.
    Do we really agree with that!? That would surely be bad news for democracy ...