Saturday, December 20, 2008

Some Would Say Washington....

Some would say Washington is a funny place. Those would be the same people that think Hollywood is a funny place. If you are in the government or the entertainment industry, the word ‘funny’ is not an accurate way to describe either.

Let’s pretend that you are my family (in Yiddish we would call you misbucha – don’t forget the 'ch' is a guttural, like you’re choking), and I am telling tales out of school. You will never tell what I told because then you would never get any more inside info, and that would mean you have nothing to talk about at cocktail parties or Bar Mitzvahs.

So, here we all are at a small family gathering and Aunt Sophie says, “What’s happening with this new President? Are you going to take a job?” And I say, “Well I don’t know. It is too complicated to figure out and when you are on the outside no one ever calls you back – so you don’t actually know what’s going on.” Aunt Sophie is not happy about this answer and she says, “Someone with your talent and experience (let’s not even talk about genetics or breeding), of course they should be talking to you.” So I say, “You don’t understand, there’s the reality and the myth.” At this point Aunt Sophie picks up a frying pan and smacks you in the tuchas with it.

Let’s talk about the myths and the reality of Washington politics.

Myth Number One: People who are working in the transition will not be permitted to go into government.
The reality: People who are lucky enough to have been called on to serve in the transition may (unlikely) not want to go back into the government but you can be sure they have a friend or family member who does want to serve. If they don’t know someone who they can help, then they are people without a soul and they shouldn’t be in the Obama government at all.

Myth Number Two: People who are your friends in transition will help you to get a job.
The reality: People in Washington are all about the power and the perception. If you have a friend working in the transition, the likelihood of them returning a phone call or keeping you in the loop is minimal. It’s not that they don’t like or care about you, it’s just that they have been corrupted by whatever power they have been given and they don’t have time to mingle with the great unwashed. This is not meant to be at all cynical, it is just what Washington has become.

Myth Number Three: If you send your resume to, someone will read it and eventually you will get a job, or a letter, or a gold star, or a gift from some obscure radio show.
The reality: If you spend the time to fill out your on line application, the transition/campaign will have one more e-mail from which to fund raise. Sending your resume to is about as likely to get you a job as it is to get you a boyfriend or a husband or an on line date. It’s a black hole. No one can tell you what happens to those resumes, and no one can tell you if you will ever be considered for a position. But that’s the bad news, and I don’t mean to be negative. The good news is that you have organized your thoughts, put them into some kind of order, and you know that you are a viable commodity for something—maybe it’s not in government, but something.

Myth Number Four: You worked in the campaign and the campaign will take care of you.
The reality: (And it breaks my heart). You may not be qualified for a government job. You are competing with a million people who worked on the campaign and civil servants who actually know what they are doing. The reason you see so many Clinton people getting jobs is because the Obama people want their government to work, and there are a finite number of jobs available for people, and silly as it seems, experience counts.

Myth Number Five: People who know everything are smarter than people who know nothing.
The reality: No one knows anything. It’s important for the government to work and make change. No one knows how that happens. There are too many people and too many issues to actually know how to get things done. It’s a crap shoot. This President is likely to do better than most because he is honestly attempting to cross divides and build bridges. He is willing to take chances and find common ground. For him, the myths might become the realities and everyone will be included – except maybe me -- but you knew that from my "I have no friends on Facebook" blog. We're just sayin'... Iris

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