- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2004

Left-wing “hate Bush” groups just recently proudly announced they have raised some $75 million to run attack ads against President Bush in battleground states.

A good chunk of these funds are from Democratic gazillionaires like George Soros. The hypocrisy of the left on campaign financing is truly stunning. For years, those on the left were cheerleaders for legislation like McCain-Feingold that would take “big money” out of politics. The were sick of multimillionaire donors “buying elections.”

Well, excuse me, but what in the world do they think George Soros is doing? Mr. Soros, who has labeled George Bush “the most dangerous man in the world,” has already given $16 million to “hate Bush” groups and he has said he will consider giving much more if that money can be used to defeat Bush-Cheney in November. But the left-wing campaign finance zealots have not issued a peep of protest.

The American Prospect magazine for years railed against big donor politics but recently applauded the Soros money because it will “level the playing field with Bush.” But Mr. Bush raises his money $2,000 at a time, not $2 million at a time.

If the left doesn’t want to play by the rules it set up with the new campaign law, that’s fine. Let’s repeal this misbegotten law by all means.

The Bush-Cheney re-election team has not acted entirely admirably either of late. The Republican National Committee tried to persuade the Federal Election Commission to block the airing of political attack ads by groups like Moveon.org.

This contradicted the longstanding principle of conservatives that the First Amendment protects political speech — even speech we find disagreeable. The Founding Fathers intended the First Amendment to above all else grant the unabridged authority of Americans to criticize the Congress and the ruling class. After all, these men led a revolution against a ruling class. Would James Madison or Patrick Henry have tolerated a law that made it illegal to criticize King George III?

FEC Chairman Brad Smith, the one unwavering voice of sanity on the commission, said it best: “If the Bush White House thinks it will win this election by silencing the opposition, they are sadly mistaken.”

One unintended impact of the White House complaint against the left’s barrage of attacks against Mr. Bush is that it interfered with the ability of groups on the right to wage a counteroffensive. Republican donors were reluctant to give to groups to run ads attacking John Kerry, when the Republicans were challenging the very legality of such political messages.

In effect, the FEC complaint created a unilateral fund-raising disarmament on the right. Left-wing groups were totally undeterred by the FEC complaints and, if anything, accelerated the pace of their 30-second TV hand grenades. Groups on the right were under a de facto blackout. Hence, for the last two months, blistering and hateful TV ads against Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney by Moveon.org and other drooling-at-the-mouth liberal attack dogs went unanswered.

Well, there’s an old Mafia saying: Don’t get mad, get even.

Moveon is already up on the airwaves in battleground states like New Mexico, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. There were 12 states in 2000 Mr. Bush won or lost by 4 percentage points or less. Green rivers of left-wing dollars pour into these crucial states. The latest attack ad against Mr. Bush shows discouraged children with a voiceover announcing states and cities can’t afford to pay for good schools because Mr. Bush spent $87 billion on Iraq. Another left-wing attack ad against Mr. Bush claims that, when he said his tax cuts would create jobs, he didn’t bother to tell us all those jobs would be in China. Clever, but wrong of course, given that already 1 million new jobs have been created here in the U.S. this year.

The good news is that now conservative 527 organizations, such as the one I run, the Club for Growth, have launched a counteroffensive to the left’s anti-Bush tirade. Our Club for growth ads, which defend Mr. Bush’s successful policies on the fight against terrorism and his pro-growth tax cuts, can be seen on Web site clubforgrowth.org. Our first ad stirred protests from liberals, such as Alan Colmes of Fox News, who believes it is inapproriate to use images of September 11, 2001, in a political ad. But why should the defining event of our lifetimes be taboo to discuss in an election with so much at stake? Didn’t Franklin Roosevelt talk about the war against the Nazis when he ran for re-election in 1944?

John Kerry is a target-rich environment. This is not a candidate from the Bill Clinton, centrist wing of the Democratic Party. Mr. Kerry can and should be attacked for his positions on taxes, big government and his voting record as the most liberal member of the Senate, and on and on. Americans should be educated on his penchant for taking simultaneously mutually contradictory positions on issues. (“I voted for that bill right after I voted against it.”) Jay Leno recently lampooned Mr. Kerry by noting that, if he wins the election, he could be the first-ever president to give the State of the Union message and then the rebuttal.

So the battle is finally engaged. The task of keeping up with the money spigot George Soros has opened will require a Herculean voter education campaign by groups on the right. Mr. Soros says we live in a “dangerous world” under Mr. Bush.

If people think it is a dangerous world now, wait until they get a load of what Mr. Kerry’s policies would do to the nation. They soon will find out.

Move over, moveon.org. You’re no longer the only game in town.

Stephen Moore is president of the Club for Growth.

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