View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Friday, March 12, 2004

527 Amen Choir 

In an article about the Democrats' 527 machine, and its ability to fill in the gap for Kerry between now and the convention, we find this:

So they needed extra megaphones - outside groups that could put ads on TV; a think tank that posts anti-Bush talking points on its Web site (the new Center for American Progress, helmed by another ex-Clinton aide); and some liberal talk-show hosts to balance the Rush Limbaughs (Air America Radio, starring Al Franken and others, starts March 31 in four major cities, and Philadelphia later).

Republicans don't seem upset about the new think tank or the talk-show hosts; they dominate in those areas. But they have dispatched lawyers to complain about the ads, because they think some of the groups are violating federal law.

Dick Polman, who writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer, misses the point. First of all, the Republicans consider Rush to be balance for the networks, sloppy local news reporting, and newspapers like his own. If the Democrats are unappreciative on this score, that doesn't mean they're right.

Republicans aren't upset about think tanks, not because they dominate in that area, but because there are already plenty of Democratic think tanks. We aren't upset about their Talk Radio project because we're convinced they don't get it, don't understand what makes a market-driven medium work.

The reason that Republicans are upset about the Democratic 527s, as Mr. Polman gets to in the 10th paragraph, is that they're advocacy for a specific party, against a law that the Democrats voted heavily in favor of. A law they supported having already figured out a way around it.

Hypocrisy is a very weak charge to make, but it is worth pointing out, which Mr. Polman doesn't, that the Democrats have also been front-and-center in condemning the corrupting influence of a small number of large-money donors to political causes. He fails to note the diffculty, and political danger, in trying to prove coordination between campaign and 527.

In short, the article works to make the Republicans out to be whining children, when in fact they just made the mistake of assuming that Democrats would play by rules they dictated.

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