But I will say this: the rank hypocrisy of the Kerry campaign is astounding. Today, Kerry is sending Vietnam vets Max Cleland and Jim Rassman to Bush's ranch in Texas to beg Bush to denounce the ads.
If I were Bush, I'd say, "Sure, I'll condemn them. As soon as that jackass condemns 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' I'll condemn the Swift Boat ads that a Republican kicked in $100,000 for as soon as Kerry condemns the attack ads for which Democrat George Soros has kicked in tens of millions of dollars, and which have been running for months. Until then, get off my property or I'll have the Secret Service blow your remaining limb off."
At least that's what I'd say if I were him....
James Taranto had the best summation of the whole sordid affair that I've seen:
Has anyone stopped to ponder just how pathetic this is? For years we've been hearing from the Democrats that President Bush is a dummy, an illegitimate president, a liar, a military deserter, a "moral coward" and another Hitler--but now Kerry is begging Bush to use his moral authority to get him out of a fix that he himself created by running a campaign based almost entirely on "war hero" braggadocio.Of course, all of this boils down to the issue of 527 organizations. The 527s are now a cause celebre because of the Swift Boat ads that have run in relatively few markets. Interestingly, you didn't hear much about 527s up until this month. But that's not because they weren't spending any money; in fact, they've been quite active--and almost exclusively on one side. As an analysis piece from last month in the Boston Phoenix points out:
...in addition to Kerry's own ads, more than $15 million of political advertising has run in the past three months, most of it bashing Bush, most of it in key battleground states--without costing the Kerry campaign a dime. The ads have been created and paid for by organizations known as "527s," named for the tax-code section that defines them...Of course, that was last month. Now that a couple of hundred grand has been spent on the other side, the Dems don't seem to be so enamored of 527s anymore. As soon as the Kerry campaign issues it's $100 million or so worth of 527 denunciations (plus another $100 million or so in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' denunciations), Bush should go ahead and issue his.
...The best-known of these 527s is probably the MoveOn.org Voter Fund, formed last September by the progressive California-based MoveOn.org; its most recent television ad, running in Ohio, blames George W. Bush for losing American jobs to outsourcing. The most ambitious group, however, is an interrelated trio planning to spend more than $100 million on this election: Americans Coming Together (ACT), the Media Fund, and Joint Victory Campaign 2004, all operating out of Washington, DC. Its TV and radio ads include "No Oil Company Left Behind" and "Bush and Halliburton."
Another Washington group, New Democrat Network, is taking in and spending about a million dollars a month. Among its projects is an effort to recruit Hispanic voters into the Democratic Party. For the young and hip, there's Music for America and PunkVoter. Several well-known political-action committees, or "PACs," have started separate 527s (such as EMILY's List Non-Federal Fund, and Sierra Club Voter Education Fund). And there are issue-specific 527s, including one focused on labor (Voices for Working Families), one devoted to decriminalizing marijuana (Marijuana Policy Project Political Fund), and several committed to environmental issues (League of Conservation Voters, Environment 2004, State Conservation Voters Fund). In all, more than a hundred 527s filed a quarterly report with the IRS by the July 15 deadline.
The people funding these 527s, with millions of their own dollars, are arguably the Democrats' 2004 MVPs. Yet with the exception of financier George Soros, who has contributed a total of $12,481,250 in the past 18 months and who has been called to task in no uncertain terms by the GOP, they remain surprisingly unknown to the public and uncovered by the media.
The Phoenix has compiled a list of 12 donors (see below) who chipped in more than $1 million each during the first 18 months of the current campaign cycle--the start of 2003 through the end of June--to Democratic-leaning 527s. Collectively, this dozen has donated just over $50 million.
They include a range of people, from the business elite (George Soros, Lewis Cullman) to the glitterati (Stephen Bing, Susie Tompkins Buell), from the well-born (Anne Getty Earhart, Alida Rockefeller Messinger, Linda Pritzker) to the self-made (Andrew Rappaport, Marcy Carsey, Agnes Varis). There's even a drug-reformer billionaire (Peter Lewis)-and an environmentalist (John A. Harris).
Thanks largely to their largesse, 527s are, and will continue to be, major players in the 2004 campaign.
"The 527s are independent. I'm not familiar with what their plans are," says Democratic heavy-hitter Alan D. Solomont, of Boston, a major fundraiser for the Kerry campaign. "What they're doing, I think is terrific."