Dave — Now we are getting somewhere. First, I specifically have acknowledged that the ban on third-party ads is a problem. I did not mean to dismiss it by bringing up the sunshine consideration, but instead to show that there may be a middle ground on that issue. I do of course take issue with the idea that the sunshine consideration is “implausible.” Instead, it could be central to the whole discussion. Frankly, I don’t know every detail of the third-party ban, because by the time the bill finally passed, I was sick of the whole issue. I do know that the sunshine argument was an important part of the debate at one time. I also know that third parties such as the Swift Boat vets were perfectly able in 2004 to get their message out, which helped confirm my impression (perhaps a mistaken one) that the whole argument was a big kerfuffle over not much, because, as I wrote, money will find other avenues almost no matter what parchment barriers are in place.
Second, I think we are getting somewhere because you appear to be acknowledging that the soft money ban is a close call, constitutionally speaking. In other words, that the soft money ban, which ORIGINALLY was the biggest bone of contention (especially for George Will), is one on which honest conservatives can disagree and therefore one that should not be a litmus test, espcially when so many other, far more important, issues are out there.
What I object to is the herd mentality that says that on EVERY SINGLE ISSUE, the following: Position A is THE conservative position, and therefore anybody who ever transgressed on that issue (or on any issue) is therefore verboten. Some issues are more important than others. Futile attempts to keep money out of politics are, for me, one of those lesser issues.