Two Steps Forward or Three Steps Back?

With President Bush still mulling over whether to sign the lobbying and ethics reform bill passed by Congress, there are those who are lauding legislative efforts to thwart corruption, and those lamenting that those laws need to be written in the first place.

Jack Markowitz opens his column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review with the following:


There's a pitfall when politicians pass laws to keep themselves honest. It's a shock to see what measures of self-control they feel it necessary to apply. Some forms of behavior shouldn't need a law.

He's got a point -- it's a little depressing to watch grown men and women passing laws (after not a little heel-dragging) to prevent their own bribery. But I don't think it's fair to assail efforts at eliminating the influence of certain kinds of special interest money on politics when we continue to live in a campaign environment where more and more money is needed.

Lawmakers aren't wrong to want to keep running for office, and they need money to do it. Until a viable Clean Elections-style system is in place that allows candidates to completely circumvent the big money game, there will always be those who try to game the system and those who hate it, but play along to stay in public service.