Many of the mercenary culture’s best-known practitionersrnprefer anonymity as they profit in the afterglow of their publicrnservice. To their clients, and to their mothers, they arernthought of in terms of their last-held government title.rnhideed, some of the most sought-after lawyer-lobbyists inrnWishington arc former public officials with impressive-soundingrntitles. Ambassadors to small, insignificant Caribbean nationsrnarc referred to as “Ambassador” for the rest of their lives.rnBut fancy permanent prefix or not, these faeilitators-for-hirernare undeniably important and extraordinarily effective, andrnthey have distorted the traditional decision-making processrnas we may think wc knew it. Their principal concern is notrnthe national interest or the substantive merits of the variousrnpolicy arguments, but the maximization of their client’s position,rnat all costs. In articulating their clients’ positions and inrntrying to make them as plausible as possible, truths becomernever so subtly shaded.rn'[‘he great bugle that calls Washington to attention today isrnmoney. Groups without money—including small- and medium-rnsized American companies amidst the recession—in therncacophony of disparate Washington noises, are relatively silent.rnAn interest may have a single “representative” carrying its water,rnor fiyc, or 50. Sometimes, it is like a tug of yvar, with 100rnmuscle-bound strongmen on one end and a few small childrenrnat the other. Not surprisingly, it is usually the well-heeledrninterests that thrive and triumph in Washington, with littlerncorrelation to the inherent quality, credibility, and merit of thernideas inyolvcd.rnIt is in this perverse milieu of the highest bidders that thernmost disconcerting transactions occur. The overriding ethic inrnthe world’s most lawyer-infested city on earth is that all interestsrndeserve to be represented, and therein lies the principalrnjustification and rationale for all facilitators in Washington. Itrnis how a former Justice Department attorney, Michael Abbell,rnwho helped lead the United States to extradite drug lordsrnoverseas, would explain his latter-day representation of thernMedellin cocaine cartel and, from 1986 to 1990, of the governmentrnof Iraq; it is how a dozen unpaid campaign advisors tornGeorge Bush would have explained their lobbying efforts onrnbehalf of foreign governments and corporations in the 1988rncampaign—if anyone had really asked.rnIn such a marketplace of Washington insiderism, the biggerrnthe “name” the higher the fee one can command—it allrncomes down to the perceived degree of “access” and “influence”rnthat a former official has with current Washingtonrnfunctionaries. Who and what the client does is largely irrelevantrn—as long as he keeps paying, of course.rnAnd so the public is faced with the grotesque spectacle ofrnits most respected former officials becoming mere fixers for arnfee. In recent years, we have seen former Reagan campaignrnmanager John Sears, former IJ.N. Ambassador DonaldrnMeHenry, and former Democratic Senator Birch Bayh workrnfor South Africa, South African interests, or American companiesrndoing business in South Africa. We have seen the onlyrnman in Anrerican history to hold four different Cabinetrnpositions, Elliot Richardson, go on to represent the Marxistrngovernment of Angola, the Hitachi Foundation, and the Associationrnfor International Investment. We have seen fourrnformer White House-level officials—Robert Strauss, HowardrnBaker, Jody Powell, and Anne Wexler—team up to helprnJapan’s largest electronics company, Matsushita, purchasernMCA, the American entertainment giant, for $7.5 billion.rnMCA is the parent of Universal Studios, rrrakers of such megahitrnmodern Americana movies as E.’J’. and jaws. By mollifyingrnthe unions, keeping the wheeling and dealing out of the press,rnand finally announcing the outcome as a fait accompli whenrnCongress was out of session, four Washington insiders helpedrnforeign investors buy the fourth of Hollywood’s seven majorrnstudios. This kind of clout doesn’t come cheaply. Straussrntold the Washington Post that he doesn’t do windows or chargernby the hour anymore—his firm received $8 million for this jobrnalone.rnThe most elaborate single-issue lobbying by a foreign countryrnin Washington this year surrounds Mexico’s efforts to influencernCongress to pass the North American Free TradernAgreement (NAFTA). Millions of dollars are being spent andrna large number of former trade officials are being paid byrnMexican interests to promote NAFTA. The dimension of thisrneffort appears to be unprecedented, exceeding even the 1987rnefforts by Japanese interests in the wake of the Toshiba affair.rnRegardless of what one thinks of the notion of a regionalrntrade compact, the specter of the decision-making processrnbeing possibly distorted by money and “hired-gun” formerrngovernment officials is truly disturbing. Not only does thisrnkind of thing diminish public service and erode trust inrngovernment and its leaders, there are more serious implications.rnThere is an undeniable, dreadful feeling that no one isrnminding the store these days, that America’s elder statesmenrnare either dead or dialing for dollars, and that government isrnno longer the protector and guarantor of the public interest.rnLIBERAL ARTSrnTRUTH OR TEXTBOOKSrnFi’c American textbook publishers have, according to twornLongvicw, Texas, educational research analysts, “flunked yetrnanother test of simple factual accuracy.” After Texas hadrngiven Scott, Glencoe, Houghton, Holt, and Prentice fivernchances to catch factual errors in the ten United States historyrnbooks they submitted for 1991 state adoption, Mel and NormarnGabler identified another 582 uncorrected errors in theirrntexts last fall. The five publishers had already made overrn7,000 changes (including corrections of errors previouslyrncaught by the Gablers) and paid a fine of $1.5 million to thernstate for their inaccuracies. Yet in response to the Gablers’ argumentrnthat such erroneous statements in the books as “Julyrn1974—House votes to impeach Nixon” (the House did notrnimpeach Nixon, but rather its Judiciary Committee voted tornrecommend articles of impeachment to the full House) arernsimply unacceptable, the Association of American Publishersrnreleased a lengthy report that reasoned; “No text can be completelyrnwithout errors. And technical perfection, even if attainable,rnis not a sound goal in textbooks. . . .”rnMAY 1993/1 7rnrnrn