Move over, Moveon

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Moore, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Left-wing "hate Bush" groups just recently proudly announced they have raised some $75 million to run attack ads against President Bush in battleground states.

A good chunk of these funds are from Democratic gazillionaires like George Soros. The hypocrisy of the left on campaign financing is truly stunning. For years, those on the left were cheerleaders for legislation like McCain-Feingold that would take "big money" out of politics. The were sick of multimillionaire donors "buying elections."

Well, excuse me, but what in the world do they think George Soros is doing? Mr. Soros, who has labeled George Bush "the most dangerous man in the world," has already given $16 million to "hate Bush" groups and he has said he will consider giving much more if that money can be used to defeat Bush-Cheney in November. But the left-wing campaign finance zealots have not issued a peep of protest.

The American Prospect magazine for years railed against big donor politics but recently applauded the Soros money because it will "level the playing field with Bush." But Mr. Bush raises his money $2,000 at a time, not $2 million at a time.

If the left doesn't want to play by the rules it set up with the new campaign law, that's fine. Let's repeal this misbegotten law by all means.

The Bush-Cheney re-election team has not acted entirely admirably either of late. The Republican National Committee tried to persuade the Federal Election Commission to block the airing of political attack ads by groups like Moveon.org.

This contradicted the longstanding principle of conservatives that the First Amendment protects political speech - even speech we find disagreeable. The Founding Fathers intended the First Amendment to above all else grant the unabridged authority of Americans to criticize the Congress and the ruling class. After all, these men led a revolution against a ruling class. Would James Madison or Patrick Henry have tolerated a law that made it illegal to criticize King George III?

FEC Chairman Brad Smith, the one unwavering voice of sanity on the commission, said it best: "If the Bush White House thinks it will win this election by silencing the opposition, they are sadly mistaken."

One unintended impact of the White House complaint against the left's barrage of attacks against Mr. Bush is that it interfered with the ability of groups on the right to wage a counteroffensive. Republican donors were reluctant to give to groups to run ads attacking John Kerry, when the Republicans were challenging the very legality of such political messages.

In effect, the FEC complaint created a unilateral fund-raising disarmament on the right. Left-wing groups were totally undeterred by the FEC complaints and, if anything, accelerated the pace of their 30-second TV hand grenades. Groups on the right were under a de facto blackout. …