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The Other Revolving Door

Given my position as a BIG-TIME fifth-tier media gadfly, I am often a recipient of that bane of the existence of this profession, the emailed press release. Hundreds of them pass through my inbox in an average week, most of them too trivial to merit comment. But I did notice this one from the Obama campaign today, really a standard-issue rebuttal to some Romney surrogate attack. Not for the content, of course, but for the name on the release. See if you can spot it.

“John Sununu’s dishonest attacks ignore the reality of Mitt Romney’s record in the public and private sectors: his focus wasn’t on creating jobs, it was about creating wealth for himself and his investors, no matter the cost to workers, companies or communities. That’s what he did at Holson Burnes’ Claremont plant when he and his partners made millions of dollars while New Hampshire workers lost their jobs. Under President Obama’s leadership, the economy has gone from losing 750,000 jobs a months to adding more than 4.2 million private sector jobs over the last 26 consecutive months. America can’t afford to go backward with Romney Economics.”—Danny Kanner, campaign spokesman

Disregard the content. This Obama campaign quote is attributed to campaign spokesman Danny Kanner. What is so remarkable about that? Check out a few of my older stories and you’ll find that Kanner spent the past couple years as the chief spokesman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

There’s nothing shocking here, of course. But I think it’s a teachable moment. You hear a lot of people talk about the “revolving door,” and usually when they say that, they refer to how political figures swing between Capitol Hill and Wall Street. And that happens at all levels, from former members of Congress to staffers. But there’s another revolving door. Simply put, political jobs are transient positions. There’s always a better job, with more responsibility or with a more powerful patron, just a phone call away. And that’s what we see at work here. Needless to say, if you work for someone nominally at odds with the leader of the party, that’s going to affect your ability to land a job with the leader of the party down the road. I’m not saying that Danny Kanner somehow sabotaged efforts by Schneiderman to resist the foreclosure fraud settlement, and got rewarded with a campaign job later on. I’m saying that there’s simply a lot of gravitational pull in politics, mainly because you never know who will be your next boss. At least on the Democratic side, I see this play out when politicians find it easier to compromise values than compromise relationships with their colleagues.

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David Dayen

David Dayen