Michael Dobbs, the "Fact Checker" at the Washington Post devotes today's column to further parsing the assertions of presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards that they would not take money from federal lobbyists. A previous discussion of this topic set off quite a debate among his readers; and he digs into an exploration of where the line is between a donation rooted in conviction, and one rooted in access-buying.
We've noted before what a difficult task it is to strictly define "lobbyist money;" but the main issue here should really be the concerted effort among prominent candidates to make the issue of money in politics a priority. As diverting as it may be to try and draw lines around what constitutes tainted money, the simple fact is that voters believe the current private financing system compromises the integrity of our government and an argument over semantics can't change that. A viable full public financing system for elections on the other hand, can.
Dobbs awards Edwards, Obama, and Clinton "one Pinnochio" for "stretching the truth on campaign finance reform" in their public statements on this issue. Perhaps it would be appropriate then to award Edwards one "Jiminy Cricket" for this speech he just made defining corruption, and the domination of public policy debates by wealthy special interests, as the moral issue of this generation.