Monday, February 02, 2004


Those defenders of journalistic integrity over at the Wall Street Journal editorial page (thank you, Paul Gigot) have officially shifted from Dean cheerleading to Kerry bashing with two (count them, two) editorial invectives against the MA Senator today.

In one, they clamor about Kerry's "zillionaire wife [who] could spend money to defend him if she had to." No hyperbole here. As if the Bush campaign doesn't have its own legions of zillionaires, including his own clan's cache of ill-gotten wealth.

The WSJ editorialists complain, in essence, that the fact that the Dean and Clark campaigns so mismanaged their funds--thus leaving Kerry with a relative abundance of money--subverts the democratic value of the primaries:

"It takes an enormous amount of money to communicate in our vast nation, and our foolish campaign finance limits don't allow nearly enough."

The former clause is true enough, but the latter clause is simply absurd. It costs a lot of money to campaign because campaign ads are a cash cow for the networks. The problem is not money so much as it is access to the media. The major networks, after all, are granted monopoly rights to broadcast their signal over the airwaves, which are a public good.

The answer, then, is not to raise the limits on what individuals or corporations can give to a candidate (not that I think the limits matter much), which the WSJ suggests. The answer is for the public to take back what rightfully belongs to it, and free the airwaves for legitimate political candidates, thereby obviating the need for the egregious taint of campaign financing.

But if it is money in politics that worries the WSJ, John Kerry is not the candidate they should be focused on.


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