Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Randy Scheunemann Non-Controversy

Randy Scheunemann, who is John McCain's top foreign policy advisor, has been in the spotlight this last week due to his past lobbying ties to the Georgian government. Critics have alleged that Scheunemann's previous dealings have contributed to war in the Caucasus.

This morning's Los Angeles Times includes
a feature story on Scheunemann, with the bottom line being that the revolving door between interest group work and campaign advising is non-controversial:

Ed Davis, director of research at Common Cause, said Scheunemann's move from lobbyist to advisor is common. Foreign governments, companies, labor unions and other organizations spent a record $2.8 billion to lobby for favorable policies in Washington last year, records show.

"Unfortunately, it's the way business is done," Davis said.

But Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, contended that it's unreasonable to ban paid experts from advising candidates. "If you rule out people who lobby, you probably rule out a lot of talent and connections," she said.
For critics, Scheunemann's case is less about conflict of interest than it is about his foreign policy positions as a hawk on national defense. He's seen as a key "neocon" who helped hoodwink the nation on the "disastrous" folly of war in Iraq.

The fact is that the Scheunemann story is small potatoes, and has been pumped up by war opponents hoping for an advantageous gotcha moment against the GOP.