Dan Moran of the LA Times runs an astonishingly dishonest “gotcha” story — which might have been transcribed from Clinton campaign TV spots — on the issue of Barack Obama’s stand on corporate money in campaigns.
Obama’s stance is clear, and has never been violated: he takes no money from corporate PACs or from federal lobbyists. (No one running for federal office can legally take money directly from corporate coffers.) PAC money isn’t, legally, corporate money, but the PACs are controlled by the companies and the “donations” from employees that fill PAC coffers are often only semi-voluntary. Federal lobbyists are people paid to influence people like Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton, in their current jobs an in the job they’re seeking. So refusing to accept money from PACs and federal lobbyists is a sensible way to insulate the candidate from financial pressure on his policies.
Obama does accept money from individuals who work for energy companies. Why not? Is drilling for oil a disgraceful activity that makes money earned from it dirty money? And he accepts money from people who are registered to lobby at the state level, since they aren’t legally in a position to ask Obama for favors, now or later.
Clinton’s position is equally clear. She wants money from whoever will give it, including PACs and federal lobbyists. That’s legal, of course. But there is a difference between the two candidates, and one voters might care about. In particular, Obama has promised that he won’t staff his Administration from the ranks of corporate lobbyists, as GWB so extensively has. Clinton has made no such pledge.
Clinton has been doing her best to obfuscate the difference, and to challenge Obama’s integrity, by pretending that his open acceptance of money from oil-company employees and from people registered as lobbyists at the state level “contradicts” his stance on corporate and federal-lobbyist money. It doesn’t.
Moran’s story, if you read it closely, makes the relevant distinction. At one point, it says “Obama’s ad is factually correct.” (Someone will have to explain to me the difference between “factually correct” and “correct.”) But Moran, by pretending that the distinction is somehow artificial, creates a story where there was no story. Rather, it converts a story that should be about Clinton’s vulnerability to special-interest manipulation and her campaign’s mendacity into a story that questions Obama’s truthfulness.