Jewish World Review March 21, 2001/ 26 Adar 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IF money is the mother's milk of politics, as everyone in Washington says it is, you might think John McCain and Russ Feingold would be a little nicer to Mom.
The Senate, reluctant as ever to pop a sweat, took up debate yesterday on the celebrated campaign-finance bill that would do more than fundamentally change the way the nation pays for federal elections. John McCain and Russ Feingold would determine who gets to speak up during election campaigns, and it might be me but it wouldn't be you.
The only people left standing in the wake of McCain-Feingold would be the well-upholstered candidates, ambitious plutocrats and pundits with a cable-TV slot or who buy ink by the barrel. We'll tell you what you need to know about the candidates and the issues. All you'll have to do is sit down and shut up. Why do you think the princelings of the media are so in love with John McCain?
Mr. McCain, opening the debate, urged his colleagues to "take a risk for our country." He might have been (but wasn't) talking about the risks to the Constitution, particularly that amendment that everybody pretends to love (but often gets in the way of those who know what's best for the rest of us). Then the senator tried a little flattery. "I think the good men and women I am privileged to serve with are perfectly capable of surprising a skeptical public, and maybe ourselves, by taking on this challenge to the honor of the profession." (Profession?)
Earlier, leading a tail of pliable reporters and photographers, the two senators marched to the Republican and Democratic headquarters to proclaim that it was time to liberate the pols from the "tyranny" of the money politics that bought them to power.
Mr. McCain insists he sees a "60 percent chance" of passage, but he doesn't say it with the demeanor of a man with such encouraging odds on his side. Mr. Feingold conceded that it would not be easy to keep his Democratic colleagues in line now that they'll have to cast an authentic up-or-down vote for the first time. "When you take $500 million out of the system," he said, "every senator is going to at least blink."
The senators feel so oppressed by the demands of work and worry nobody has suffered like they have since Georgia abolished the chain gang that Mr. Feingold thinks some of them will be tempted to break their chains. Even now he can hear the faint refrain of the battle cry of freedom. Every member of Congress, he said, is "pushed and shoved" by party leaders to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the party. "It's time to end the tyranny of having to raise this money."
One man who can't wait for the serious food fight to begin he's holding his biscuits in reserve for the moment is Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has held the fort almost alone while McCain fever raged unabated in the back of the press bus (and on front pages and in the high-decibel sound bites). He predicts "fascinating" floor action.
The hero may turn out to be Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator from Nebraska, who, like his good friend John McCain, is also a hero of the Vietnam War. His substitute legislation, backed by the White House, would limit but not prohibit free speech by limiting but not prohibiting campaign contributions.
The Hagel version would limit to $120,000 donations to political parties over a two-year election cycle, and increase the limits on contributions by individuals to federal, state and local candidates. He takes pains to insist that he drew up his plan to protect the Constitution, not to help President Bush at the expense of his friend John McCain. "The Shakespearean drama and intrigue of me somehow being the point of the spear being used by George Bush to get to John McCain is just a complete fabrication," he says.
Mr. Hagel's nod to constitutional nicety has softened Democratic enthusiasm for McCain-Feingold, but nothing has softened this enthusiasm quite like the final figures, just in, for who gave what to whom for the 2000 campaigns.
Republicans took in $244 million, and that's a lot, but the Democrats now find they took in $243 million. Messrs. McCain and Feingold, the Democrats have discovered, have quit preachin' and gone to meddlin'.
By insisting that big labor, as well as big business, be cut
out of the game President Bush has driven a stake through the
heart of McCain-Feingold, even if, as is likely, the Supreme
Court will nail the coffin lid down tight. Over the past six
months, 10 U.S. district and appellate courts have struck
down attempts to chip and whittle at the First Amendment's
guarantee of free speech even the free speech that gives
the chattering class severe
03/19/01: Knocking hard heads at the Pentagon
11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach
11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck
11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours
11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings
10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice
10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell
10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights
10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools
10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief
10/06/00: AlGore's black problem
10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote
10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio
09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp
09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes
09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply
09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'
09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye
09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset
09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap
08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal
08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost
08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash
08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme
08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser
08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy
07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers
07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself
07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?
07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?
07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit
07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink
07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season
07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results
07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate
06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!
06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve
06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman
06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat
06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation
06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'
06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch
06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak
05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper
05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks
05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes
05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example
05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans
05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales
05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man
05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat
05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary
04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood
04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks
04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go
04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno
04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)
04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts
03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table
03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day
03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult
03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology
03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain
03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end