The Washington Post has a great piece today on Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana and his former top aide Jim Messina. Messina (left), a former Idahoan, is now White House Deputy Chief of Staff.
The piece is worth a read for several reasons, not least because it illustrates a fundamental rule of politics: personal relationships really matter. As the Senate, home of arcane rules and bound by tradition and history, inches toward critical votes on health care legislation, its worth remembering that the place is often all about “the inside game” conducted out of the glare of C-SPAN cameras.
Critics often demean the relationship side of politics and, of course, that kind of influence can be abused. Still in the best sense – in the human sense – being an insider simply means one has accumulated a lifetime of trust and confidence with lots of people. Politics, and particularly the rough and tumble of a political campaign, breeds a rare kind of relationship that is hard to describe, but impossible to diminish. Most people I know in politics cherish these personal relationships more than they do any sense of power or impact that might flow from them.
In simple terms, the world – and politics – operates on the basis of personal relationships. Or put another way, in politics and life you come to trust people who over a long period of time have proven to be honest, loyal, hard workers who care about the same things you care about.
The Baucus – Messina bond is one of the more important relationships in Washington these days. It is a fascinating study in how Washington works – and always has worked.