The wit and wisdom of Elizabeth Sloane

I  have just read the script of the uber-lobbyist movie ‘Miss Sloane’.

The movie is about Miss Elizabeth Sloane. She is a “Traditionally a free-market and anti-tax advocate, Elizabeth Sloane has more recently led a full-frontal assault on the Second Amendment, going up against the Gun Lobby in support of the Heaton-Harris Amendment on gun control; a veritable David vs. Goliath battle for the veteran strategist. Congress is set to allege that Ms. Sloane has made a career out of subverting American democracy.”

She works for “Cole, Kravitz and Waterman LLP


The script is full of gems. I cut and paste some of them below.


Not to emulate
There are things that I’d not recommend. She exists on a diet of  Benzodiazepines.

She has given all her energy to work and deals with physical needs via an escort service.

Her insights on lobbying and winning votes in Congress are insightful. They do, at times, seem questionable. But, in DC, I suspect these practices are mainstream.


  1. On lobbying

    Lobbying is about foresight. About anticipating your opponent’s moves and devising countermeasures. The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition, and plays her trump card just after they play theirs.
  2. Reframe

Palm oil is a key ingredient in Nutella. If the Federal Government taxes it at 300%, it’ll cost more for us to gorge ourselves on it.


Isn’t palm oil in pretty much everything?


We could have called it Soap Tax, but the public cares more about Nutella than it does soap. Ross did surveys.

  1. Movie extras

If no supporters, hire movie extras movie extras. She hired an actors to play doctors to ask questions to a Congressman  in public meetings / fundraisers.


  1. Know your subject

Know your subject, people! Failure to do so may result in the loss of a golden opportunity.

When I see you this afternoon, you’d better be ready to recite that tax code in Esperanto.


  1. Never cheat

A conviction-lobbyist never cheats; she exposes cheaters.


  1. Make complex issues simple

Less than 0.2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Would you like to know by how many orders of magnitude the American industrial revolution eclipsed them, so we could grow fat off all that Nutella.

  1. Know your facts

Esme’s our authority on gun control. When it comes to facts and figures, she has no equal.

  1. Know your team

  2. Know your issue

  3.  Put a human face

Mothers against guns marches, there was an online pledge to vote against anyone who opposes gun control-

  1. Count the votes for and against you

An entire wall is dedicated to bio mugshots of Congressmen, with red slashes over some and green ticks over others. Some have no markings. This is their vote count.


  1. Know the rules of procedure

217’s the magic number. 217 gets us a majority-


  1. Sound bite your issue

Yes. Pussyfooting isn’t memorable. Sound bites are, and the appropriate one here goes like this: anyone that desperate to get their hands on a gun shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near one.


  1. Record their position on film
  2. Do Prep

Has profiles done on each politician.

  1. Use your own close network
  2. Communicate

We need to market Heaton-Harris the same way they market Big Macs. We’re dropping direct mail pamphlets and buying ad space online instead. Alex, you’re in charge of the banners, you have a two o’clock with JWT on 14th Street. Now, to the phone banks.


  1. Study

Now, the second reason we’re here is that I’d like you all to read Packard’s exposé of psychological techniques of commercial advertisers from 1957.

  1. Communicate so it leads to action

Our phone pitch has to “burrow insidiously into Floridian brains?”


Yes. And so too your ad banners. They must burrow so deep, your targets are inspired to flood their elected official with pro-Heaton-Harris letters, and use those delightful social networks to implore their friends to do likewise. Now, read the exposé, and take to the media-verse!

  1. Use a whiteboard

– 11 VOTES LOCKED, 23 TO GO is scrawled on a whiteboard, underneath – DAYS TO VOTE: 148.


  1. Speak to each politician and count off the vote

Use others to speak with them.


  1. Not an easy job

I’ve gone through eleven doctors, they all want rid of me for ignoring their exhortations to slow down. I want to slow down. But this job is the only means I have of making myself useful.

22.  Idealology is dead – this is about self interest

 Did you know, ideology is dead? The philosophies of the left and right are driven by the self-interest of those who advance them.

Neither side cares for the merits of their argument; they just happen to spout it because it suits their position in the world.


  1. Simplify the message

Gunshot victims cost the American taxpayer $12 billion a year. That’s $32 per gun in circulation. Now get your house in order.


  1. Create a diversion

The whole Florida thing was a ruse?


  1. Expose politicians who are going to vote against you – Giant Rat

  2.  Make your case clear on TV & provoke the other side

This is the latest incursion into individual liberty by an all-powerful federal government-


What, like drivers’ licenses?


Drivers’ licenses? I’m not really seeing the connection.


It’s illegal to operate a car without going through rigorous theoretical and practical assessments, that’s a clear constraint on the freedom of individuals to drive cars, as with pilots to fly planes.!


Why, they’re a government incursion on individual liberty, are they not? We accept them because they make sense; the more dangerous the machinery, the more rigorous the tests should be. We wouldn’t want unfit drivers in cars any more than novice pilots flying 747s, because dangerous machinery in the wrong hands poses a threat to public safety. I think we can extend our definition of ‘dangerous machinery’ to semi-automatic firearms


And I can’t stand to see people hide behind it just as they hide behind the Bible to deny gay people rights. Literalists need to stop reciting their sacred parchments and exercise their brain power. If they can produce a rational winning argument, I’ll gladly migrate to their side, but ‘because it says so in the Constitution, the Bible, or my horoscope’ is not a winning argument.


It’s a ripcord; the intellectual equivalent of a yellow, pant-pissing wimp cowering behind mommy’s skirt.


  1. Go all out to win

I see you’re still in kill mode.


  1. You need scandal and controversy

Any of our friends in the media will tell you that’s only accomplished with scandal and controversy. Our message isn’t penetrating to younger voters, most of whom are pro, but few of whom are politically active. In short, we need to make gun control cool.


  1. Use celebritites

– Justin Timberlake’s Twitter page. #BeTheChange is all we need to see. Other celebrities follow suit.


  1. Morality

There are degrees of wrongness. Immoral as a harmless lie may be, it may be perfectly moral to tell a hundred of them to prevent a truly pernicious outcome. Lies and half truths are a lobbyist’s stock in trade. But I’ve never deployed one for a cause I didn’t believe in.!

  1. Make an earthquake

You didn’t hire me to get close. (To Ross)

What would it take to revive it?


Right now, it’s not even making it to the floor.


What would it take to revive it?


Seriously? An earthquake. Elizabeth nods, as if finally conceding defeat.


Well. I should get going.


  1. Promoting self-interest

My work as a lobbyist has been defined by a peculiar kind of conflict. I’ve made a career from defending my clients’ attempts to maximize their profit. I loathe to use words such as ‘duty’ and ‘responsibility’, because I don’t believe such concepts to be bases for human behavior. I’ve advocated strongly for self-interest as the only rational basis.


I recently told my attorney that ideology is dead; that people merely co-opt whichever political school of thought best serves their desire to profit personally. Looking back on my history of representations, I can only marvel at how wrong I was.


  1. Principle kicks in

I guess, sometimes, people challenge themselves – do things they don’t fully understand, that don’t make sense to them, or even things they’re not comfortable with… Not from any self-serving impulse to protect their lot, but as a matter of principle. Because they happen to believe, in the circumstances, it’s plainly and simply the right thing to do.

The truth is, I took on each and every one of my representations because I believed, as a matter of ideology, in the causes I for which advocated.

Some may regard this as ‘infantile, save-the-world idealism’, but I’ve come to realize that conviction lobbying served my interests very well; it catapulted me over the legions of mercenaries, to the very top of my industry; all without playing golf, or being a man.

My point is this, and there’s no better place to make it than on national TV, before America’s assembled press…



Lobbying is about foresight. About anticipating your opponent’s moves and devising countermeasures. The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition, and plays her trump card just after they play theirs. It’s about making sure you surprise them, and they don’t surprise you.

I anticipated that if I got sufficiently close with Heaton- Harris, there may be an assault against me personally to stall our momentum and tarnish our credibility.


  1. Have a Plan – and note the costs

Then it worked. I wouldn’t have moved without a plan to win. But for what? This was career suicide. No firm’s going near you, not now. You’re too high-profile.

I knew this would be my last hurrah the moment I conceived it.


  1. In her self interest


You’re the champion of self-interest,right? I fail to see how self immolation in furtherance of a gun bill is in your interests. This was disinterested altruism.

Career suicide might sound bad… but it’s not when you consider the alternative is suicide by career. Any of my eleven doctors would tell you I’ve served my interests very well.


  1. Do research

Everything is researched and checked.