Reston-Broder Syndrome Claims Victim
From the Scrapbook.
Jul 23, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 42 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Obama penury claim can only be made because the conventional ways of monitoring Democratic campaign spending are woefully incomplete. Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a new analysis showing that unions had spent an
To sum up: Even though Democrats bellyache constantly about money in politics and shadowy GOP super-PACs, their largest campaign contributors don’t report 75 percent of the money they spend to the FEC. Naturally, the union spin on the Wall Street Journal report was at once brazen and disingenuous: “Laurence E. Gold, counsel to the AFL-CIO, said the Labor Department reports show that ‘unions by law are the most transparent institutions about their electoral spending.’ ”
If unions are so proud of their transparency, why is it that Democrats tried and failed to exempt unions from the rules they would impose on corporate political expenditures? In 2010, in the wake of the much demonized Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, Democrats tried to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would have imposed all sorts of limits on corporate campaign donations—but curiously would have “exempt[ed] from disclosure requirements transfers of cash from dues-funded groups to their affiliates to pay for certain election ads,” according to Politico. Fortunately, the DISCLOSE Act didn’t pass.
This strange new respect for transparency is also at odds with the Obama administration’s rollback of Bush administration transparency requirements aimed at exposing corruption and cleaning up union governance. They’ve stopped enforcing the requirement that union bosses disclose whether they’re being paid on the side by companies doing business with the union and stopped reporting what unions do with their strike funds.
Now that this other Bush-era transparency requirement shows that unions are the largest political spenders even though they represent a small minority of Americans, expect the Obama administration to quietly do away with it if the president is reelected. Sure, unions spend more on politics by an order of magnitude than any other interest group, but it’s stepping all over the preferred narrative that the Koch brothers are buying this election. In the meantime, the Obama campaign can tone down the breathless fundraising emails, confident in the knowledge that they won’t be outspent. Republicans can take solace in the fact that of the 63 Democratic House seats they captured in 2010, they were outspent in two-thirds of the races and still won. Money in politics, as in life, isn’t everything.
Get Well Soon
While The Scrapbook is as prone to bouts of Schadenfreude as anyone, we are occasionally reminded of the call to summon the better angels of our nature. Last week American Spectator senior editor and occasional Weekly Standard contributor Quin Hillyer set an example that all in Washington should, but won’t, heed. Faced with the news that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. had disappeared to receive treatment for an as-yet-unknown personal problem, Hillyer wrote:
Jesse Jackson the elder is one of my least favorite pols, EVER. His son certainly isn’t of the most stellar character either, and he’s a real left winger. But none of that matters. His current problems, whatever they are, sound serious—and they are of the type that call for compassion and sympathy, not scorn. He is a human being who appears to be suffering; I offer a prayer for his recovery.
As it happens, I know of one particular incident, private in nature so I won’t relay any specifics of it (it was told to me by a first-hand witness; I didn’t see it myself), that speaks well of some basic instincts toward personal decency within the heart of the younger Jackson. Suffice it to say that he reached out, supportively, when somebody across the aisle was down. Conservatives should do likewise for Rep. Jackson. May he find solace and health—so we can go back to opposing him politically when he errs in that realm, which is often, but not opposing him personally or meanly.
We freely admit that it wasn’t the initial impulse of The Scrapbook to say this, but upon considering what Hillyer has to say, we also find ourselves wishing Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. a speedy recovery.
Lipstick on a Pig