Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Edwards: WaPo misunderstands lobbyist issue

If you think about it, it's hardly surprising that a mainstream media newspaper reporting in a town run by lobbyists misunderstands (perhaps willfully) the issue about lobbyists controlling Washington. Perhaps predictably, the Washington Post ran a column today that completely misses the point.

One thing I like about John Edwards is that he's not afraid to state what should be obvious to everyone, especially when it seems many others are afraid to (or won't) say it. Edwards is completely correct that lobbyists are running Washington and have rigged the system against you and me.

In a statement released just a little while ago, Edwards had this to say about the Washington Post's rather bizarre column:

"My campaign is about giving every American the same chances to succeed that I've had - but that can't happen while powerful interests and their lobbyists run Washington. They write our laws to give themselves every break imaginable, while regular families struggle to get by, let alone get ahead. If we are going to build One America, we need to end the money game in Washington.

"I've called on the Democratic Party and all candidates for federal office to stop taking money from Washington lobbyists. A column in today's Washington Post misunderstood the issue. Reforming our party isn't a substitute for changing our laws; it's a critical addition to changing our laws - a huge step we can take today to show the American people that we're the party of the people without waiting for Washington to catch up.

Edwards went on to re-iterate his call to Obama and Clinton to join him in this effort to pressure Democrats to stop accepting lobbyist dollars. Some have accused Edwards trying to force Obama to look like he's following Edwards by pressuring him to join Edwards's effort. I noticed that this time, Edwards is freely giving Obama a way out of this dilemma by mentioning his support for Obama's legislation. Edwards seems to be saying, in effect, nobody is following anybody, but let's just get the job done.

"There are two ways to reform our system. The first way is to pass legislation. I have publicly supported Senator Obama's plan for ethics and lobbying reform. I am also a strong supporter of public financing, and when I am the Democratic nominee for president, if the Republican nominee agrees, I will accept public financing of my campaign. But, as we have seen over and over again, every time we are actually able to pass a new law, all of the lobbyists find loopholes to keep the system rigged.

"The other legitimate path to reform is for our party, the Democratic Party, to reform itself by refusing to take money from Washington lobbyists. By doing this, we are telling Washington lobbyists that their money and their agenda are no good here anymore, and exposing for the American people who the Republican Party is working for - and it's not them. Refusing Washington lobbyist money is a huge step in the right direction - that we can take today - to return our country to a government of, by and for the American people.

"Both ways of reform are legitimate and important. But the real question is if Senator Obama and Senator Clinton really care about reform, which I believe they do, then why will neither of them join me and support both paths?"

Here's an excerpt of the letter that Edwards sent to Obama a few days ago:

Last week, I sent you a letter asking you to join me in taking a stand for millions of working and middle-class American families by calling on the Democratic Party to stop accepting campaign contributions from federal lobbyists and help put an end to the money game in Washington once and for all. Let me be clear, I am not calling on any campaign or candidate to return what has already been legally contributed. But I am proposing that we, as Democrats, stop accepting donations from federal lobbyists from this day forward. It's a bold challenge – and one that has drawn fire from more than a few Washington insiders. But that's why it's all the more important for us to make sure it happens.

I have never taken a dime from Washington lobbyists, and I am proud that you have stopped taking money in this campaign – in fact, it's why I asked you to join me in leading this important effort to help ensure that no DC lobbyist will stand in the way of real change.

I'm glad that John Edwards is staying with this issue. I hope other Democrats will join him.

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