Don't let The Man cramp your texting style! (Flickr/OregonDOT)
Let's say you're an entrepreneurial lobbyist, looking for a beleaguered industry in need of some help. Someone whose products are being criticized, but who hasn't fought back. Well, how about this "distracted driving" thing? Shouldn't there be someone out there arguing that people should be texting while driving? Or at least that if they do, it really isn't any worse than, say, listening to the radio? And wouldn't wireless companies and smartphone makers pay you a lot of money to go out and make that case?
I know, it sounds like a joke. But it's apparently what a lobbying firm called the Seward Square Group thought. In an internal document laying out the plan obtained by the website FairWarning.org, the firm says, "With industries remaining silent, national transportation authorities and media celebrities have hijacked the debate, a dire consequence to reasonable regulation." So it created the DRIVE coalition (Drivers for Responsibility, Innovation and Vehicle Education) in the hopes that the companies would pony up lots of cash to mount a counterattack on Oprah Winfrey, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and other party poopers trying to get people to put down their phones while they drive.
Unfortunately, probably since we're ruled by a bunch of socialists, the effort has been abandoned. Seems LaHood got wind of it and scheduled a press conference to lambaste it, which scared them off. Distracted driving has been a major initiative of LaHood's department -- they've even got a website (Distraction.gov) devoted to it.
So what's next for the Seward Square Group? Well here's an idea: You know who really gets a bad rap? The Mexican drug cartels. Who'll speak for them? I smell a new client.
-- Paul Waldman