The Washington Post has reported the following interesting exchange at the YKos convention which I was unfortunately unable to attend. I am quoting the candidate's views on lobbyist contributions to political campaigns, and they differ considerably:
Clinton came under attack for declining to join former senator John Edwards (N.C.), who is quite popular with bloggers, and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in pledging to not take campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists.
"I think my party, the Democratic Party, the party of the people, ought to say from this day forward we will never take a dime from a Washington lobbyist," Edwards said to rising applause from the audience of more than 1,000.
Asked whether she would agree with that, Clinton said, "I don't think, based on my 35 years of fighting for what I believe in, anybody seriously believes I'm going to be influenced by a lobbyist or a particular interest."
With that there were groans and hisses, and Clinton, who had braced for such a reaction and seemingly had waited for it through nearly an hour of debate, responded: "I've been waiting for this. This gives us a real sense of reality with my being here." She added, "A lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans."
When the moderator, New York Times Magazine writer Matt Bai, turned back to Obama a few minutes later, the senator immediately challenged Clinton's position.
"I disagree with the notion that lobbyists don't have disproportionate influence," he said. "The insurance and drug companies spent $1 billion in lobbying over the last 10 years. Now Hillary, you were talking earlier about the efforts you made back in '93 [trying to reform health care]. Now you can't tell me that that money did not have a difference. They are not spending that just because they are contributing to the public interest."
With that the audience erupted in cheers of approval, and Edwards, sitting on Clinton's right, joined in the applause.
"I'm losing control," Bai quipped, before giving Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio) the floor.
Dan Balz and Jose Antonio Vargas, Washington Post - August 5, 2007
Well, I think there is an issue here and I leave it to the readers to make there own judgements. I don't know how else to describe Hillary's response except to suggest she is expecting us to take this all on trust. That may have worked in the past but I hope that times have, or are, changing in this respect. If we are going to do anything serious to improve the representation of the electorate in the US political process this issue needs to be addressed, and now would be a good time. In fact, for once, she seems to be in a minority of one among the top tier. Isn't this an appropriate opportunity to make a case for something better?
Sure, lobbyists represent people, mostly the employees of corporations if you use a financial criteria for analysing the spread of the contributions, and I know that there has been a substantial effort lately to confound the issue in respect of the Sierra Club and other public organisations but the problem is not going to go away unless we are prepared to make an electoral issue about it.
Given that we have just had a significant change in ethics reform in Congress perhaps it is time to make this a more substantial part of the debate about the process we use to elect our representatives, not just the outcomes.