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The Lobbying Ban

Few things impress me more than Obama's stringent new lobbying rules. But today's Post also features a useful reminder that grand Day One proclamations don't always survive their encounter with the reality of Washington:

Two days after his 1993 inauguration, Bill Clinton barred senior appointees from leaving and then, at any time in the next five years, lobbying former colleagues in the agency where they had worked. He reversed the order a month before leaving office, as aides complained of difficulty finding jobs.

Still, it's a good start.

People outside DC might be surprised, by the way, at how openly government aides discuss what they would be "worth" after holding various jobs. I heard a couple such conversations myself over the past few days. It would be wonderful if Obama could squash that mentality altogether and draw people who really care foremost about public service.

One problem is that a huge proportion of revolving-door traffic involves Capitol Hill, and Obama's regs don't cover those folks.

--Michael Crowley