The Consultant Racket

THE CONSULTANT RACKET….It’s a blogosphere truism these days that Democrats are too reliant on a tired bunch of Beltway consultants who are out of touch with the liberal base, reflexively recommend poll-driven caution and mushiness, and have losing streaks that make the ’62 Mets look good. But you would have heard about this more than two years ago if you’d been subscribing to the Washington Monthly back then. Amy Sullivan told the whole story in “Fire the Consultants,” in our January 2005 issue:

[Joe] Hansen is part of a clique of Washington consultants who, through their insider ties, continue to get rewarded with business even after losing continually. Pollster Mark Mellman is popular among Democrats because he tells them what they so desperately want to hear: Their policies are sound, Americans really agree with them more than with Republicans, and if they just repeat their mantras loud enough, voters will eventually embrace the party….Hansen and Mellman are joined by the poster boy of Democratic social promotion, Bob Shrum. Over his 30-year career, Shrum has worked on the campaigns of seven losing presidential candidates–from George McGovern to Bob Kerrey–capping his record with a leading role in the disaster that was the Gore campaign. Yet, instead of abiding by the “seven strikes and you’re out” rule, Democrats have continued to pay top dollar for his services.

I’ve been reading the Monthly for nearly three decades now, and it’s because stories like this pop up in virtually every issue. It’s great stuff, and it’s stuff you won’t find anywhere else. You really, really ought to be reading it every month.

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