"Lobbyists are the Hester Prynnes of Barack Obama's Washington, scorned for the sins of a complicit city.
One member of this reviled class, Heather Podesta, went so far as to distribute brocade patches embroidered with a scarlet "L" to her fellow lobbyists at the Democratic National Convention -- a literary jab at the Obama campaign's refusal to accept lobbyists' cash.
There were so many takers that she ran out. No surprise there, if you've ever been to a party convention.
Now, making good on his campaign promises, President Obama has issued stringent rules to limit lobbyists' involvement with his administration.
Under the Obama plan, those who have been registered lobbyists within the past two years cannot -- not without a waiver, anyway -- take an administration job in their area of expertise. Those who join the administration and then leave are barred from lobbying it for the duration of Obama's presidency -- not just their former departments but the entire administration.
I support this strict regime, but with misgivings. The ugly excesses and outright criminality exposed by the Jack Abramoff scandal argue for this cleansing of a corrupt system. The new rules serve, as Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote of Hester Prynne wearing her letter, as "a living sermon against sin.""
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Ruth Marcus: The Scarlet Lobbyist
(The Washington Post 2/4)