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Thursday, March 21, 2002
Feeling smug
Nobody ever accused the New York Times of being good winners. They're so thrilled that McCainShaysFeingoldMeehan passed the Senate -- the "biggest election reform in a generation" -- that they feel the need to resort to name-calling. They label "anonymous White House officials" who described the bill as "flawed and oversold" as "churlish." Two paragraphs later, the Times describes the bill as "not a panacea." See, that's the way the Times' editors are: people who disagree with their views, even if they say the same thing, are evil, intolerant, or narrow-minded. Or in this case, just "churlish."

In an attempt to canonize those who supported this unconstitutional bill, the Times adds, oddly:
Among Democrats, Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin not only helped lead the fight in Washington, but also put his beliefs into practice at home. Mr. Feingold refused soft-money donations for his own re-election struggle in 2000, ignoring supporters who warned it could cost him his seat. His victory was an advertisement for reform.
Leaving aside the fact-checking problem -- Feingold's re-election was in 1998, not 2000 --there are several ways to interpret that statement; none of them seem to parse as "an advertisement for reform."

1. If Feingold could win re-election under the old system, without taking soft money, then doesn't that suggest that the need for "reform" is overstated?

2. If Feingold's victory is supposed to demonstrate that voters favor "reform", then shouldn't his slim 50-49 margin of victory call that into question? Moreover, shouldn't the overwhelming defeats of Bill Bradley, John McCain, and Ralph Nader suggest that voters couldn't care less about "reform"?

3. The Washington Post noted, about Feingold's election that
Fund-raising: Feingold raised more than $3.8 million, spent about $3.5 million and had $351,000 in cash on hand in mid-October. Neumann raised nearly $3.7 million, spent nearly $3.1 million and had about $591,000 in cash on hand.
I'm not sure what this says, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't suggest an "advertisement for reform." But the Times doesn't care, because any outcome would be cited as demonstrating the need for "reform," as long as the Times ends up with more influence and everyone else ends up with less.

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