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Mr. Schmidt Goes To Florida With Obama

A few weeks ago, I was at a news event with Mike McCurry and I asked the former Clinton press secretary for some perspective on the technology lobby. I wondered whether he thought tech companies were any faster than others in terms of advocating for themselves in Washington.
A few weeks ago, I was at a news event with Mike McCurry and I asked the former Clinton press secretary for some perspective on the technology lobby. I wondered whether he thought tech companies were any faster than others in terms of advocating for themselves in Washington.When I started covering technology for TechWeb a few years ago, it wasn't a crowded field in terms of beat coverage. That seemed to change when Congress considered network neutrality legislation. All of a sudden, news about technology policy, and the tech lobby, seemed to be everywhere.

So, I was curious about the views of a veteran in politics and media on the development.

McCurry pointed to a libertarian bent among several company leaders and founders in Silicon Valley. He said they actually seemed to be slower than their counterparts in other sectors to form cohesive lobbying efforts. They also have conflicting interests on some of the major issues, net neutrality included, so they did most of their early lobbying individually.

After the brief conversation, the main point that jumped out at me was that the technology sector -- known for innovation, flexibility, and speed -- was actually slow to do anything. Today, I can't help but think back to the conflicting interests part, now that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has joined Barack Obama on the campaign trail.

Schmidt has said his involvement is personal, not professional, and I'm not implying that Schmidt himself has a conflict of interest. John McCain has plenty of tech moguls, including Carly Fiorina, by his side. Schmidt has advised the Obama campaign on technology issues for a while now, and I'm glad both candidates are paying enough attention to the field to turn to qualified advisers.

That said, Google has such a broad reach now that it's hard to imagine a technology policy issue that wouldn't impact the company. And, it's hard to imagine either a Democrat's ideals or a Republican's ideals matching up to what would be best for Google.

So, while observers imply that Schmidt could be angling for a position within an Obama administration, I'm inclined to believe that he's doing just what he said. He's doing what every citizen has a right to do -- supporting the person he believes is best suited to occupy the White House.

Whether he, Fiorina, or anyone else gets any added benefits from lending a little corporate star power to the presidential campaigns remains to be seen. Only time will tell.