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Jewish World Review March 29, 2000/ 22 Adar II, 5760

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Stop the presses


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IT'S MONDAY, MARCH 27, and I've just finished reading The New York Times. There's an astonishing story by Katharine Q. Seelye about Al Gore's absurd plan to hijack campaign finance reform from John McCain as his hot issue for November's presidential election. Gore says-and try not to laugh-"If you elect me as your president, the McCain-Feingold bill will be the first domestic legislation I send to the Congress on my first day in office." Not only that, but he's fashioned a risky scheme that intends to raise $7.1 billion from individuals, corporations and unions, the interest on which will be used to fund congressional campaigns starting in 2008. As in, when his second term has elapsed.

The good news is that Gore has completely misinterpreted the success of McCain's primary campaign: people voted for the Senator because of his biography, not for any of his fuzzy ideas. In fact, exit polls in most states showed that campaign finance reform ranked near the bottom of issues of importance to citizens. But Gore, literal and grandiose as ever, shamelessly claiming he's been cleansed of past fundraising violations, believes this will catapult him into the Oval Office. Chalk up one more mistake for Tony Coelho, Donna Brazile and the Gore Gang.

The Times, naturally, is thrilled with Gore's conversion. On March 27, the paper smugly proclaimed: "Beyond McCain-Feingold, [Gore] said he would push for public financing through tax-deductible contributions to a special endowment and, if that proved insufficient, would have broadcasters provide free air time as a condition for keeping their licenses."

That'll go over big in the communications industry.

The paper continues: "Now that Mr. Gore is declaring himself so firmly for reform, the pressure is on Mr. Bush to come out for real reform as well."

No it isn't. It's not time for the GOP candidate to advocate trashing the constitutional rights of Americans; it's not time for the Texan to abandon his equitable tax-cutting plan even though the Times lies and says it's "designed to favor his rich campaign donors."

Incredibly, on the same page, the Times ran an editorial against the flag-desecration amendment currently before Congress. I happen to agree on this one: burning or destroying a flag, while repellent to some, is certainly no crime. But right after advocating a debasement of the First Amendment on campaign fundraising, a Times editorialist has the balls to write: "If the Senate truly respected the Constitution it is sworn to uphold, it would not be trifling with the Bill of Rights and its precious guarantee of freedom of speech."

Sulzberger Jr.
As usual, the Timesmen want it all: their candidate, their interpretation of the Founding Fathers' documents and their elite, arrogant and presumptuous notions of how Americans should live and be governed. This is a despicable, power-hungry newspaper that's only grown worse with the aging of publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. The paper piously invoked Pravda when ranting, day after day, about the GOP's arcane primary rules in New York, but amateurs like the bumbling George Pataki aren't a patch on Sulzberger and Howell Raines.

It's fortunate that at least some editorialists learned to tell the truth as children. David Tell, writing in the March 27 Weekly Standard, is devastating on the topic of Gore, confirming once again why he's probably the finest political essayist in America today. After cataloguing the Clinton-Gore-Reno atrocities, which understandably eats up countless column inches, Tell concludes: "Al Gore's sense of extralegal entitlement is a dangerous thing in a would-be president. His opponent in the forthcoming campaign, George W. Bush, may well try to make this case. There is no guarantee Bush will succeed. Eight years into the Clinton administration, the country's concern for the integrity of its laws-at least as they apply to politics and politicians-has never seemed weaker. 'Everybody does it,' Americans now routinely tell themselves, whistling past democracy's graveyard.

"But they are wrong about that. And there will be honor in any attempt to change their minds, even if the attempt is a practical failure.

George W. Bush should speak out, early and often, about the true import of Al Gore's grotesque campaign fund-raising scandals."


JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press (www.nypress.com). Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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