Lanny Davis and the Wages of Sin

I wrote about this a few weeks ago and now Kay Steiger of Campus Progress has published a more thorough takedown of Lanny Davis, the former Clinton lawyer who now makes a living representing for-profit colleges, oppressive foreign regimes, and mad despots who are widely rumored to be cannibals:

When Davis first joined this debate, it was as a commentator, writing what looked like an opinion piece on June 23 for the newspaper The Hill.  Davis attacked “a noted Wall Street short-seller, Steve Eisman” for criticizing for-profit schools without disclosing that he (Eisman) had made financial bets against the schools. But did Davis himself have a disclosure issue here? Perhaps he had not yet entered into discussions with the for-profits to be their paid advocate. Perhaps he was simply auditioning for the lucrative assignment. Or perhaps in a world of critical policy issues on which he could comment, Davis acted solely out of conviction in penning this tribute to schools that have left many students deeply in debt and without marketable skills. In any case, Davis registered as a lobbyist for [a for-profit trade group] on Sept. 17.

In many ways the most interesting thing about Lanny Davis is the way he illustrates the exceedingly dysfunctional de facto process of ideological credentialing in Washington, D.C. Once upon a time, Davis worked for President Clinton. President Clinton is a Democrat and, in many respects, a liberal. This has allowed Davis to claim the liberal label and sell it to the highest bidder on the open market for the explicit purpose of promoting illiberal causes. This isn’t just what Lanny Davis does—it’s the only thing he does. So the question is: How long does a putative liberal get to prostitute their liberalism before they’re no longer considered liberal in the public mind? The answer, apparently, is forever. It’s like once you get your diploma from Liberal U., you can spend your weekends recreationally stealing from widows and orphans (or, more to the point, your weekdays professionally working for giant anti-labor corporations) and you still get invited to the class reunion.

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