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Byron York: Democrats throw the spirit of reform out the window
The Hill ^ | 11/5/03 | Byron York

Posted on 11/04/2003 9:53:17 PM PST by Jean S

Who’s the most important Democrat in America today?

Howard Dean? Hillary Rodham Clinton? Bill Clinton?

A case can be made for each. But a better case can be made for George Soros, the Hungarian-born financier who has become the major financial force behind the movement to defeat George W. Bush in 2004.

A few months ago, Soros announced that the Bush administration had become so “dangerous” that he would scale back his philanthropy abroad to concentrate on beating Bush at home.

Since then, Soros has been showering the president’s opponents with money. Sometimes he gives them a six-figure check. Sometimes he gives a seven-figure check. Sometimes he gives an eight-figure check.

Who knows? Maybe a nine-figure check is in the mail at this very moment. Soros’s biggest contribution to date — at least the biggest that is publicly known — is a $10 million gift to America Coming Together, the new Democratic group that will coordinate voter turnout in competitive states across the country.

Soros’s gift is the largest single political donation from an individual in history, surpassing the $7 million check given to the Democratic Party by Hollywood producer Haim Saban in 2002.

Of course, those old-style soft-money contributions to the parties were outlawed by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. Because of that, groups like America Coming Together — known as 527s because of the section of the tax code that provides for them — are now taking over much of the work that the Democratic Party used to do.

It’s legal, but certainly not in the reform spirit. “I think this is a new form of soft money,” says Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity. “I have a hard time seeing what the difference is between a soft-money donor to a party and a big 527 donor, especially when both give million-dollar checks.”

One might assume that advocates of reform would not want to take part in the world of 527 soft money. But look at Soros.

The website of his foundation, the Open Society Institute, lists lots of grants to reform groups in the last few years. There is $625,000 to Common Cause, $2.5 million to the Brennan Center for Justice, $1.2 million to Public Campaign, $125,000 to Democracy 21, $1.7 million to the Center for Public Integrity, $75,000 to the Center for Responsive Politics and $650,000 to the Alliance for Better Campaigns.

Their common goal, in the words of Public Campaign’s mission statement, is “to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics.”

But now, liberal advocacy and 527 groups like America Coming Together are accepting huge checks from Soros. And he has a very special interest: to get Bush.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that one can do a lot more about the issues I care about by changing the government than by pushing the issues,” Soros told Fortune magazine recently.

While Democrats embrace Soros and soft money, Republicans appear reluctant to follow suit.

Yes, the GOP has 527 organizations. But a recent study by the Center for Public Integrity found that in the 2002 cycle, Democratic-affiliated 527 groups spent $185 million — more than twice the $82 million spent by Republican-affiliated groups. And contributions like Soros’s will make the imbalance even more pronounced in 2004.

Republicans seem to believe that their big lead in hard-money fundraising — the playing-by-the-rules contributions limited to $2,000 — will allow them to prevail.

The most recent FEC records show that so far in the 2004 cycle, the three big Republican Party committees have collected about $148 million in hard-money contributions from individuals, while the three big Democratic Party committees have raised about $55 million.

Add it all up and the numbers reveal a delicious irony: Republicans, by and large, are observing the spirit of a law they opposed, while Democrats, by and large, are violating the spirit of a law they supported.

Despite all the problems, reformers maintain that McCain-Feingold is still worthwhile because politicians don’t have to beg for big soft-money contributions — and reward big contributors with access.

But if you’re a Democrat, and you receive a call or request from George Soros or one of his top aides, what would you do? Ignore it?

In the end, the current mess cuts to the core issue of reform: What would have been wrong with Soros’s being allowed to give his $10 million directly to the Democratic Party?

If the party was required to disclose the contribution instantly, then the public would know about it. And if that created a political problem for Democrats, then they would take more care the next time around.

Now, however, Soros can funnel his money into relatively obscure groups, some of which are not required to reveal any of their contributors.

That’s reform?

TOPICS: Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: byronyork; cfr; georgesoros; mccainfeingold; soros

1 posted on 11/04/2003 9:53:17 PM PST by Jean S
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To: JeanS
Soros has been off raping the Russians and now he's back at work on us.

Check this thread that's been recently posted...

What's it going to take to get this insect to leave the world in peace???

2 posted on 11/04/2003 9:59:27 PM PST by fire_eye
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To: JeanS
"...George Soros? Who's he workin' for?"

3 posted on 11/04/2003 9:59:39 PM PST by Travis McGee (----- -----)
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To: JeanS
The ''spirit'' of reform?

Well, to each his own, but for my money that may be the single silliest statement about politics that I've ever heard or seen.

Nietzche, for all his idiocy, had this one right: ''Politics is the art of taking from one class to give to the other.''

He deliberately did not mention the famed ''middle-class'', and he could not -- it did not exist in his day.

These days, with a well-defined middle class in most civilised nations, the game has changed. It's a matter of who can persuade or coerce the ''middle class'' that government can spend money more wisely than they can, AND continue to pay for their comforts conveniently. Not an unreasonable premise, and highly effective, too, because the middle class generally is far more interested in their immediate comforts than in political dialectic; they vote once every year, or two years, or four, and consider themselves good citizens by doing so. This consideration is false, of course, but is an easy pretention, and soothing to them.

Who wants to answer THIS comment from 1947, presented in a fictional work but undeniably true, then as now:

''..if the race is simply to stay alive, political decisions depend on real knowledge of such things as nuclear physics, planetary ecology (1947, mind, before the concept of ecology was politicised to such a degree as to be worthless in honest discussion), genetic theory, even system mechanics.''

(just fun trivia -- the author of that quote is well known, and won dozens of literary awards; the work in which it appeared is less well-known. So, who, and which work? The prize is a genuine original Krug Electric, and a book whose covers are GUARANTEED to be separated by enough pages of real paper as to keep them apart.)

Science is NOT, never has been, a regime of democracy; no society that intends to survive will ever have a plebescite about the CORRECT atomic number of copper.

What the modern-day ''democrats'', not the party but those who espouse the idea -- the PC bastards, the radical egalitarians, the anarchists seeking respectability, the iron rice-bowl unionists (...and I'm very pleased to have borrowed that phrase from one of our colleagues here!), and the parasitic bureauweenies, who, most of them, couldn't find honest work short of applying to MickeyD's -- want is the subservience of their fellow citizens. Indeed, they believe, right down to the bottom of their soles, that such obeisance is their RIGHT, and they resent, even to the point of slander, libel, and outright treason, any who would argue against them.

OK, OK, /rant off

4 posted on 11/04/2003 10:51:54 PM PST by SAJ
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: Buckhead
Ding, ding...we have a winner! Good job!

It's from the short story ''Gulf''.

6 posted on 11/05/2003 6:59:00 AM PST by SAJ
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To: fire_eye
What's it going to take to get this insect to leave the world in peace???

How about some euthanasia? He favors it, after all.

7 posted on 11/07/2003 4:42:59 PM PST by MarMema (KILLING ISN'T MEDICINE)
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