Friday, February 22, 2008
Personal Aside: McCains Romance with the Blonde Hussy Reform.
Sorry to be late.
Thirty-five years ago, there was another white-haired candidate of rectitude and another blonde hussy who threatened to turn his head.
Gods angry man of finance reform then was a good friend of mine--white-thatched John B. Anderson of Illinois, a liberal Republican, chairman of the House Republican Conference and darling of Common Cause and The New York Times. Anderson, in whom there was very little modesty (or humor) represented Rockford, Illinois and started out as a man so right-wing that in 1961 he introduced a constitutional amendment proposing that Jesus Christ be designated as the model for the United States of America.
Let us say that he moved leftward from that point beginning with a deciding vote on House Rules to send to the floor the 1968 civil rights bill for which he won fulsome praise from the Georgetown elite. Praise from that quarter affected John but turned his wifes head leftward. A dramatic force in his life at her beckoning (while the remainder of us Anderson people gasped) soon he was enlisted in any move of the left that would enable him to Stand Tall in Georgetownfrom pro-choice to ant-Vietnam War to becoming the living breathing symbol of public financing. The bill that preceded McCain-Feingold was written largely by Anderson which became the principle target of Buckley v. Valeo in the Supreme Court.
Andersons bill defined the strict campaign limits we have today. However he was thrust upward on his own petard because after running unsuccessfully for president (against Reagan and others) in 1980, he determined to float an independent candidacy. Literally scores of multi-billionaires came to him with pledges to write checks unlimitedly in his behalf. Anderson was thrilled; the money could be used to spur a candidacy at least equal to, or beyond, what Ross Perot did for himself in 1992. But due to Andersons own legislative folly all he could accept from Warren Buffet and others was a measly $1,000 apiece. Thereupon he came cheek-to-jowl with his own idealistic folly. Fair campaign financing is to take the shackles off the shekels and allow individuals to give unlimitedly to candidates so long as their contributions are forthrightly declared. This Anderson discovered too late when his own fate was involved.
Discovery of his foolishness came too late for Anderson. He was too well advanced in age and liberal habit. He became a Democrat in 1992 and supported Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004 and has a few weeks ago at age 86 and in marvelous physical health announced his enthusiasm for Barack Obama in 2008.
But the lesson should not be wasted on John McCain. At a tender 71 he has just finishedfor good, let us praya long romantic involvement with a true blonde hussy the Georgetown liberal dynasty. Thank God the tryst hasnt involved turning soft on the war, but it has embraced several other things. When McCain got over-involved in the Keating 5, he shrewdly decided to make lemonade of that venture by becoming the poster-boy for campaign reform. For writing McCain-Feingold he was carried almost literally on the shoulders of the reformers. Now, like Anderson, McCain should be led to repent his liberal sins. He had to hire a battalion of lawyers to enable his campaign to stay afloat last November.
After taking out a $3 million loan, he applied for public funding certification to which he submitted the consideration of his public funding certification as collateral. However lawyers quibble about that. McCain now says he had no intention of accepting federal funds for the primaries. Chairman of the FEC David Mason still has questions about the terms of the loan. Former FEC chairman Brad Smith, a Republican, says there is certainly an argument that what they did amounts to a pledge of funds as collateral. But McCains lawyers say no. However he will accept federal funds for the general and is dismayed that Barack Obama evidently will not.
You see, Obama, another reformer has discovered that he has tapped into such a rich mine or ore that applying for federal funds would be self-limiting. So John McCain will be out there with the federal limitation while Obama will not while it is clear from todays perspective that McCain can easily match Obama in private fund-raising.
So the same snarl that tied up John Anderson is at the very least hobbling McCainan example to him and to all of us of the folly of any so-called campaign finance reform that does not include full disclosure with utterly no limitations on individuals rights to support the candidates of their choice with their own dollars.
To John McCain whom I passionately support for president: You almost got burned by the blonde hussy of misguided reform this time. Let that be a lesson whenever you are tempted to turn from the path of rectitude to the adulation of those who want to see you Stand Tall in Georgetown.