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January 20, 1989 - Image 50

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-01-20

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structure of the organization
favors the lay leaders —
which, I think, is as it should
be. The lay leaders tend to
wait until there's a problem
they can identify as a 'man-
agement problem,' which is
supposed to be their area of
expertise. Then, heads start
to roll!'
Another factor in the recent
chain of events at AIPAC in-
volves a simmering dispute
between Bloomfield, the
veteran congressional lobby-
ist, and Steve Rosen, the ar-
chitect of the group's suc-
cessful attempts to develop
strong ties with the Reagan
administration. Officially,
Rosen is the group's foreign
policy director; in reality, he
is the most powerful figure on
the AIPAC staff.
"What you had were two
senior staffers who were
locked in a furious struggle
over turf and ideology," said
one Capitol Hill professional.
"They were pulling in oppo-
site directions, so it became a
genuine management crisis
for the AIPAC board, as well
as a way for the lay leader-
ship to re-assert itself."
But it was more than a mat-
ter of ambition and clashing
personalities; at the root of
the dispute were some funda-
mental disagreements about
lobbying strategy.
Bloomfield, the consum-
mate Capitol Hill profes-
sional, was a strong advocate
of congressional lobbying;
Rosen is a leading advocate of
a more administration-cen-
tered approach to influence in
During the Reagan admini-
stration, the balance at
AIPAC has shifted dramatic-
ally in favor of administration
lobbying — at the expense,
some say, of its efforts to work
inside the more complex en-
vironment of Capitol Hill.
One result has been a grow-
ing perception that AIPAC is
tilting towards the Republi-
can Party. At AIPAC's annual
policy conference last spring,
a speech by executive director
Tom Dine was widely inter-
preted as pro-GOP;—AIPAC's
response to the Republican
Convention only heightened
this impression.
During the recent presiden-
tial campaign, there were fre-
quent reports that AIPAC
officials were unofficially but
energetically promoting the
Bush campaign — especially
by emphasizing the growing
role of Jesse Jackson in the
Democratic party and warn-
ing of a possible foreign
affairs role for Jackson in a
Michael Dukakis administra-
And the event that precipi-
tated the current confronta-

tion over the future of the
Near East Report involved
efforts by AIPAC board
members to force the editor to
publish material which the
editor deemed overly partisan
— in favor of the GOP.
AIPAC's pro-Republican
leanings are, in a way,
natural results of the growing
emphasis on administration
lobbying. Congressional lob-
bying depends on a strict bi-
partisanship; a successful lob-
byist cannot afford to be too
closely associated with the
agenda of one party or the
other, since most legislation
depends on a degree of sup-
port from both parties.
But lobbyists who focus on
the administration are deal-
ing with a single party. Worse,
they are dealing with
loyalists who often demand
visible signs of support as the
price for access.
Some analysts argue that
administration lobbying and
congressional lobbying are
almost mutually exclusive. In
the realpolitik of Washington,
rigorously bi-partisan lob-
byists do not have the same
access to the White House as
lobbyists who give tangible
signs of support to the party-
in-power. At the same time,
pro-administration partisan-
ship can be the kiss of death
on the Hill — especially when
the administration's party is
out of power in Congress.
A relatively stable institu-
tion, Congress has only a
small turnover every election
year. Administrations, on the
other hand, can change over-
night — which is precisely
what is happening now that
George Bush and his new
team are moving into the
White House. So administra-
tion lobbying is an inherent-
ly short-term process, while
congressional lobbying de-
pends on a long, patient pro-
This, distilled to its basics,
is one aspect of the feud that
led to Bloomfield's recent
departure. Bloomfield's abili-
ty to work closely with legis-
lators of both parties was a
major factor in AIPAC's in-
fluence on Capitol Hill. But,
some congressional sources
argue, AIPAC 's growing close-
ness to the Republican party
was making his job more
At the same time, propo-
nents of stronger AIPAC-
administration ties reported-
ly felt that Bloomfield's in-
dependence was undercutting
their own efforts, especially
their efforts to compromise
with the administration on
an issue for which AIPAC
traditionally accepts no com-
promise — arms sales to Arab


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