Jewish World Review March 31, 2000 /24 Adar II, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- LAST WEEK, while trying to figure out how much I'm going to have to fork over to the federal government in order to better enable it to oppress me, I was listening to a C-SPAN broadcast of a Senate hearing on campaign finance reform. It was an interesting and informative hearing, which is really so rare.
At least it was interesting and informative when the law professors were talking, since they actually know something. (And they lie only when defending the criminal behavior of the Clinton administration in order to better position themselves for federal judgeships.) Across the board and irrespective of their political leanings, the law professors could barely contain their laughter when discussing the McCain-Feingold bill.
Kathleen Sullivan, dean of Stanford Law School, pointed out that it was ridiculous to talk about the current U.S. Congress as "corrupt" when compared to most governments, both historically and across the globe. (Author's note: Stupid is another thing.)
She said it's important to keep in mind that the real complaint people have with large campaign donations is not corruption in the sense of fat cats lining the pockets of members of Congress, but is only a complaint about unequal access to politicians.
But there is always going to be unequal "access" to politicians in the same way there is unequal "access" to succulent foie gras, older cognacs, better servants and beach-front property. That's why being rich is universally popular. And, as Dean Sullivan said, the harder Congress makes it to gain access to politicians by contributing to their campaigns, the richer and sneakier you will have to be to buy that access in other ways.
I think that's a fair summary of her point, anyway. I found Dean Sullivan so spellbindingly accurate that I may be blending her argument with mine. (I also thought she did a nice job of suppressing her chortles at the McCain-Feingold bill.)
But, annoyingly, every once in a while, the law professors would stop talking and the senators would start talking -- and let me just say, I strongly advise against watching congressional hearings while calculating your tax bill. You just sit back in disbelief thinking, Why is my money going to pay the salaries of the dumb guys? As a group, there isn't much to love about law professors. But I'd still prefer that my money support the people with the larger vocabularies.
If every American were forced to watch Sen. Chris Dodd while paying taxes, the government would have to turn over tax collection to the ATF. Dodd has Vice President Al Gore's irritating affectation of sounding as if he's talking down to people while making really simple points -- sometimes even aggressively stupid points. The effect derives from his peculiar trope of stressing all words above a third-grade reading level.
Dodd is apparently quite proud of himself for having learned the words "de jure" and "de facto" -- Latin phrases no more exotic or unfamiliar to the average American than "et cetera." Speaking to a panel of law professors, Dodd strung out his use of "de facto" and "de jure" as if he were explaining the rule in Shelley's case. In Greek.
His point was this: Since rich people can buy more stuff than poor people (such as access to succulent foie gras or access to politicians, depending on one's personal tastes) and some poor people are black, the fact that poor black people are not able to give $100,000 donations to political parties constitutes a "de facto" denial of voting rights -- just like the "de jure" denial of voting rights to all black people in the past.
It being bad form to spit out your water while testifying in the Senate, the law professors merely smiled at this point.
Another comic moment came during Sen. Robert Torricelli's remarks. I rather like Sen. Torricelli. Though clearly less corrupt than, say, Al Gore (Torricelli has none of Gore's preachy self-righteousness), he totally plays the part of a shady pol, rejecting earth tones in deference to tacky, wide-lapel white suits. Though clearly smarter than Sen. Dodd, Torricelli has none of Dodd's pomposity. (And he doesn't go around claiming to have invented the Internet, either.)
Torricelli is so smart, he did something I have never seen a member of Congress do: He changed his mind after listening to testimony.
It was so astonishing, it took a while for people in the committee hearing room to realize what had happened. Yes, Torricelli said, he had voted for McCain-Feingold, but the testimony that day convinced him that the bill was unconstitutional. In fact, it was so honorable that I've changed my mind and I'm not going to give you his malapropism (which was hilarious).
So my conclusion is: We need more check-off boxes on our tax forms. I want a check-off box
to pay the salaries exclusively of senators who favor white pimp
JWR contributor Ann Coulter is the author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton.
03/28/00: All the news that fits -- we print!