Over at National Review Online, former intern and current Weekly Standard reporter Matthrew Continetti talks about his new book, The K Street Gang: The Rise and Fall of the Republican Machine, released today from Doubleday. We don't agree with him on campaign finance reform solutions...but we sure do agree with him on the need for them.
Continetti writes and talks about the culture of corruption in Washington:
[W]hat happens when lobbyists, rather than urging a specific policy, get to write the policy themselves? What happens when lobbyists ply susceptible lawmakers with expensive dinners, paid junkets, and tickets to sporting events and concerts? What happens when lobbyists use their influence to warp public debate, so that the polity ends up devoting time and energy to what should probably have been a trivial issue? And what happens when the lobbyists themselves are so consumed by greed that they lose sight of, and respect for, the law?
According to Continetti, that's what happened to true-believing Republicans who came to Washington to foment revolution but instead fell in love with money and power. He asks the question:
Here than a decade after the Republican Revolution, have the Republicans changed Washington, or has Washington changed the Republicans? I think the latter is closer to the truth. For years, the GOP attacked big government and the Washington establishment . . . only to discover that, once they were in power and had made their own counterestablishment, that Washington might not be so bad after all. The book traces the genealogy of that contradiction, and how it is reflected in the lives of Jack Abramoff and others.
Continetti then gives a nod to the need for campaign finance reform but prefers to eliminate contribution limits and enhance disclosure. We're all for great disclosure, but the only way to truly change the culture that Continetti writes about is to give candidates the option of full public financing to run their campaigns, so they are no longer dependent on special interest donors.