Peter Schweizer's new book, "Throw Them All Out," reveals this permanent political class in all its arrogant glory. (Full disclosure: Mr. Schweizer is employed by my political action committee as a foreign-policy adviser.)
Doesn't this suggest that Schweizer is the true author here, and Palin is the byline for strategic reasons?
Schweizer's book got a plug in yesterday's Personal Finance section:
First, you pretend you're in it for the people, or America, or some nonsensical ideology. Then you get elected. Then you chase money.
This article (as the author, Al Lewis, notes) follows on the heels of a 60 Minutes story about Schweizer's new book -- a segment which WSJ columnist Holman Jenkins pooh-poohed last week.
Have you read Schweizer's book? (I found it interesting that every one of the 15 reviews gives the book five stars. Really? "If you have an active [Amazon] account and would like to make very easy money please respond.") The book's title reflects an anti-incumbent attitude, but in the book jacket blurb he takes it to its logical conclusion:
The Permanent Political Class must go.
Palin echoes this objective, writing:
No more revolving door, ever.
Taken to its logical conclusion, the proposal would bifurcate the population into a private working population and a permanent political class, legally barred from ever (re)joining the private workforce after having served in office. So what are ex-politicians supposed to do for a living? Is there really a world of difference between an ex-Senator lobbyist and an ex-Senator senior executive who hires a lobbyist to carry the ex-Senator's business card onto Capitol Hill?
Does this policy also apply to Congressional staffers, who, after all, are the ones actually writing the legislation? Are they, too, prohibited from returning to industry? Who would accept an offer to work for a first-time Senator if it meant permanently abandoning your industry?
David Gergen and Michael Zuckerman think Lessig's work is more deserving of attention than Schweizer's:
Without "great evil," Lessig reflects, he is "not yet sure that we can muster the will to fight." That's a deep concern, and it calls to mind the memorable formulation of the economist Charles Schultze, who once divided our problems into two categories: a wolf at the door, or termites in the basement.
As a nation, we've always been a lot better at handling the first than the second. But if Lessig is right about the campaign finance system, it's a major case of termites in the basement -- and addressing it will require more than simply throwing all the bums out. In Lessig's view, it may require laying a whole new section of our foundation instead.
In a quick scan for some substantive critical eyes on Schweizer's data, I found Andy Eggers at LSE, who finds Schweizer's research methods (to quote John Siracusa on Walter Isaacson) "shallow and lazy":
Here is what Peter Schweizer says about Gabe Lenz and Kevin Lim's paper on the wealth of members of Congress:
One study used a statistical estimator to determine that members of Congress were 'accumulating wealth about 50% faster than expected' compared with other Americans.
Is that a fair summary of their research? Here is a quote from the abstract of the paper:
We thus conclude that representatives report accumulating wealth at a rate consistent with similar non-representatives, potentially suggesting that corruption in Congress is not widespread.
Schweizer's claim is strictly true, in that Gabe and Kevin did reporting using a "statistical estimator" that suggested faster-than-expected wealth accumulation. But they also reported that, based on their analysis, it was the wrong estimator; using a better estimator reversed the findings.
I guess Schweizer stopped reading after the fourth sentence of the abstract, so he simply didn't realize that by the ninth sentence the paper was completely contradicting the argument of his book.
To quote Rick Perry, "Oops."
RE: Sarah Palin: How Congress Occupied Wall Street - WSJ.com