This Land for Hire

"Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me fellow citizens); the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government."
—George Washington

The day after Bill Clinton's election, the new leader of the Republicans, Robert Dole, told reporters that his party would adhere to the high standards the Democrats had set in reviewing presidential appointments. As an admirer of Senator Dole's style of attack, I began looking forward to a late winter warmed by the anxieties of "Borked" Democrats, and I was not the only American to rub his hands in gleeful anticipation when Ron Brown, political fixer and foreign lobbyist, was named Secretary of Commerce.

After all, Mr. Brown had been a paid advocate of "Baby Doc" Duvalier in Haiti and had represented the interests of over 20 Japanese clients, while his firm—Patton, Boggs & Blow—is the most notorious influence-peddler in Washington. But Mr. Brown, so far from having to dodge broadsides as he ran a Republican blockade, sailed through his hearings like a toy boat on a quiet pond.

But what were the Republicans going to say? Could they trot out former U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills to denounce the obvious conflicts of interest?...

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