Jewish World Review Feb. 7, 2002 / 25 Shevat, 5762

Bob Tyrrell

Bob Greene
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- IS there no end to the corrupting effluvia of Enron?

First, the corrupters afflicted Enron's creditors, investors and employees. Now, they have afflicted one of Washington, D.C.'s finest classical music DJ's. Said he the other day between the scherzos of Chopin and the fortissimos of Beethoven: Finally something positive has come out of the Enron scandal, to wit: CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM. Whereupon this sorely deluded musical sophisticate told listeners to stand by for a report from Capitol Hill that, owing to Enron's fall, campaign finance reform was again being contemplated by the solons and numas on the Hill.

Alas 'tis true -- campaign finance reform is again in danger of being passed in Congress, where our elected representatives admit that they cannot be trusted with the money they raise. So weak is their probity that they fear financial supporters will turn them into willing tools if they accept "soft money," and possibly even "hard money." What they might do with counterfeit money is apparently too diabolical to mention.

For now, they are going after "soft money." Goaded by the oncoming clouds of Enron, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is calling for a vote on a campaign finance reform bill that the Congress last summer stuffed away in formaldehyde. It smells, but they are going to take it out of the jar and vote on it anyway. According to The New York Times, it is "the broadest campaign finance reform since the Watergate era." In truth, this particular specimen of campaign reform is as deceptive as any piece of humbuggery ever conceived by any of Enron's gifted accounts jugglers. Campaign finance reform is a delusion, as likely to reform American politics as the Boy Scout's oath is likely to reform the Rev. Osama bin Ladin.

Stripped of its halo, campaign finance reform is the Washington elites' way of enhancing their power: the media elites, by enlarging their importance in politics; the incumbent pols, by strengthening their incumbency. Moreover, after passing this particular bill, both groups presume that they will have ingratiated themselves to the naive among the citizenry temporarily, while keeping the naifs even further removed from politics.

By reducing soft money in politics, the voices of established media will gain in preponderance, while the voices of those with soft money decline. Likewise, the voices of political upstarts will decline in political races. With still more regulation of campaign finance, political veterans will have fewer challenges from outsiders who lack the connections and the background to master the increasingly complicated regulations. The only political outsiders who benefit from the kind of campaign finance reform being contemplated on Capitol Hill now are the rich and the celebrated. Their money and connections will allow them to challenge the incumbents and leap ahead of any ordinary citizen aspiring to office.

Obviously, campaign finance reform is favored by elites. The only ordinary citizens favoring it are those who have no political aspirations whatsoever or those who have only limited analytical power. Of course, ordinary citizens who pride themselves in holding to the values of elites might also favor the delusion of campaign reform, which is to say that such reforms are delusions held by the easily deluded.

Fundamentally there are two explanations for the popularity of campaign finance reform. The first is that elites always want to remain elite. The second is a widespread misconception about corruption.

Many Americanos believe the old adage that money is the root of all evil. If this were so, the world could be returned to its prelapsarian paradise by a simple recourse favored by many of history's most eminent utopians. Eliminate money -- no money, no evil. Possibly that was what Dr. Marx had in mind.

Unfortunately, money is not the root of all evil; evil is the root of all evil. Many of the goody-goody politicians who claim they would be paragons of virtue if it were not for campaign contributions are in error. Freed from the presence of soft money or even hard money, most of these politicians would be just as bad.

Once again, some politicians are lying to you. Not surprisingly they are the same ones claiming to be virtuous.



JWR contributor Bob Tyrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies . Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
01/24/02: Hucksters will move on to make their next marks
01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
08/16/01: They claim to be doing so much good
08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The Godphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate