Monday, September 18, 2006

The Real Thing

It is no wonder that it is difficult to accomplish genuine political reform when even those who should be opinion leaders value symbolism over substance.

Thus, The Tennessean, which rarely manages to publish a story about legislative ethics without splashing the words "wining and dining" across its pages, editorializes today that Congress has failed because all they did was make the earmark process more transparent. Of course, there is more that can be done, but disclosure on spending -- and disclosure of the sources of campaign contributions -- goes a long way toward making government better and more honest.

The constant references to wining and dining -- which are actually, miraculously avoided in today's intrepid editorial -- are only grating because they are code words claiming to reveal a problem that does not exist. Nobody's vote is for sale for the price of dinner. Dinners for politicians, like those for anyone else, are merely opportunities for getting acquainted. Shining sunlight on money in politics, not banning it, is the right way of inhibiting corruption and making it possible for voters to make informed decisions.

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