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October 18, 2013

Lobbyists may adopt Newspeak name, but they're still lobbyists

Let’s take a break from all the manufactured hype about the government shutdown (something like 83 percent of it was operating throughout); the alleged whisker-thin avoidance of the catastrophe of default (the government could still have made interest payments, since the debt ceiling simply means it can “only” spend the trillions it already takes in); and the “glitch”-filled rollout of Obamacare.

Let’s wander instead into one of the classrooms of the George Orwell Memorial School of Communication for the latest lesson in how to say something other than what you mean, since what you mean is, uh, well, not getting a very warm reception from the public.

Today’s class comes to us courtesy of the American League of Lobbyists, which will soon, if two-thirds of its 1,200 members approve, drop its defining term – “lobbyists” – and become the Association of Government Relations Professionals.

All very positive words these days, don’t you think? “Association” calls up images of “community,” or maybe “community organizer.” And we all love them, don’t we?

Then “Government,” which as our beloved former community organizer and now president has told us, “is the one thing we all belong to.” Yes, in our “fundamentally transformed” America, the government does not belong to the people. The people belong to the government.

“Relations” is nice, too, bringing up images of family and friendships. And, finally, “Professionals.” Just what we all strive to be – professional.

I wish the former league luck. The group’s president, Monte Ward, told the Washington Post that the change is being made in part because its members, “do lots more than walk the halls of Congress and try to shape legislation.”

Ward claimed that it was also because of what he called the, “misconception that lobbyists are walking around with a pocketful of cash and that’s about it.”

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