Since my book, Hostile Takeover, is a look at how both parties engage in corruption, people have asked me a lot lately for good examples of exactly who is leading the Hostile Takeover of the Democratic Party on behalf of Big Money interests. While there are certainly a lot of examples, today it seems the best example comes in the form of Mike McCurry. The former Clinton press secretary, who appears throughout the media billed as a party strategist, is now using his skills to try to destroy the Internet on behalf of the big telecom companies. That's not a surprise - McCurry is now raking in cash from those companies trying to get Congress to legalize a system that would split the Internet into two classes - big corporations that are forced to fork over cash to the telecom companies in their extortion scheme, and the rest of us (for more on the net neutrality debate, see this site).
What is a surprise is how dishonest McCurry is in twisting the facts. Also shocking is how he is publishing material pushing the telecom industry's agenda without disclosing that he is making cash off his advocacy from those same telecom companies. You'll notice in this op-ed in the right-wing fringe Washington Times today, McCurry's tag line lists him only as "press secretary to President Bill Clinton 1995-1998," "a partner at Public Strategies Washington" and "co-chairman of 'Hands Off the Internet' which is euphemistically labeled "a policy advocacy group" - instead of a front group to push the telecom industry's agenda.
I'd like to believe that "McCurry is a nice and a smart guy," as Matt Stoller generously says. Call me jaded, but I've worked in politics long enough to know that someone who deliberately deceives people on behalf of Big Money interests in order to screw over average Americans may be smart, but certainly isn't "nice" - no matter how affable he may be among his fellow elitists on the DC cocktail party circuit.
McCurry represents a sickening breed of operative in the nation's capital - people who are absolutely comfortable with using their experience in public service to then shaft the very public they had previously served. That's, of course, understandable among Republican operatives, who even in public service, don't make much of a real effort to claim they are doing anything but trying to sell off our country to the highest bidder.
But it is particularly disgusting among so-called "Democrats" like McCurry. Their high-profile Benedict Arnold acts only reinforce to the public that the Democratic Party in Washington is just as corrupt as the Republican Party. As Hostile Takeover details, D.C. is, quite literally, swarming with former Democratic operatives who cashed in their public service to do Corporate America's bidding. The practice is so common among Democrats it has become mundane. If you don't think McCurry's sickening behavior shows this, then just look at the recent launch of the "Hamilton Project" whereby a bunch of Democratic-officeholders-turned-Wall-Street-fat-cats stood up at the Brookings Institution, declared themselves saviors of the Democratic Party and then dishonestly disparaged Democrats as "protectionists" while promising to wage a war on grassroots groups like organized labor that make up the foundation of the Democratic Party.
This behavior has become the norm - not the exception - in D.C.'s Democratic Party circles. Any moral questions are about how disgusting or wrong this behavior is are seen in Washington as a cause for laughter, not pause. And that leads us to the hard truth: Until it becomes unacceptable in Democratic Party culture for high-profile operatives to brazenly sell out like this, Democrats in Washington are going to face continued - and justifiable - skepticism from the public that they represent the real "change" that the party claims.