Kerry To Share The Wealth

Under a great deal of pressure since the DNC discovered his hoarded campaign funds, John Kerry has agreed to give a substantial portion of it to the DNC in order to fund party-building efforts in the next two years:

Under friendly fire, Sen. John Kerry likely will donate a substantial portion of his excess presidential campaign cash to help elect Democratic candidates in 2005 and 2006, advisers said Thursday.
Party leaders, including some of Kerry’s top campaign aides, said this week they were surprised and angry to learn that he had more than $15 million in accounts from the Democratic primaries. They demanded to know why the money wasn’t spent to help Kerry defeat President Bush or to aid congressional candidates.
There were no easy answers to those questions, officials close to Kerry acknowledged Thursday, but they sought to assure Democrats in a series of telephone calls that the four-term Massachusetts senator was sharing his political wealth.

Kerry’s advisors pointed out that they gave the DNC $32 million during the primaries, but that still doesn’t explain away the money that sat unused while Kerry rolled towards the convention. (Yesterday’s AP report that Kerry left $15 million in the bank from his federal funds was apparently in error, as the AP has since changed the story.) It also doesn’t explain why Kerry sat on the cash and watched as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee borrowed $10 million for races in Texas, where redistricting left them at a distinct disadvantage. Even if Kerry spends the money on Congressional races in 2006, the damage is done; the incumbents in the new districts will have the advantage over new challengers.
Some of Kerry’s campaign staff expressed their surprise and dismay over the revelations on his leftover funds. Some Democrats questioned why, if Kerry had $45 million ready to use at the close of the convention, why he didn’t just opt out of public financing altogether. He only gained $30 million by opting in, an amount he could easily have raised in the final 60 days leading up to the election. That move would have saved him from being subject to spending limitations and would have forced George Bush to do the same.
All in all, the incompetence of the Kerry campaign reveals itself more and more each day.

Only Prosecution Will Stop It

Ohio has discovered two verified cases of voter fraud, a husband and wife who voted by absentee ballot and then voted again at the polls, claiming their ballots had been lost. They also have identified at least 18 other possible cases of intentional double-voting. The AP reports that Buckeye State election officials have yet to decide how to handle the case:

Prosecutors were trying to determine Wednesday whether charges should be filed against a couple in Madison County accused of voting twice. In addition, Summit County election workers investigated possible double votes found under 18 names. …
The couple who voted twice in Madison County cast absentee ballots in October, then voted in person on Election Day, county elections director Gloria Herrel said. The couple said election workers told them their absentee votes were lost, prosecutor Steve Pronai said.
In Summit county, typically the votes were made by absentee ballot or in person, and then a second vote was cast with a provisional ballot in another precinct, elections director Bryan Williams said.
Under Ohio law, people who vote twice could be charged with election fraud, falsification or illegal voting, according the Secretary of State’s Office. The maximum penalty for the most severe charge is 18 months in prison.

I fail to see the conundrum here. We have been debating about ensuring the validity of our elections for four years now, after the Florida debacle that gripped the nation for five weeks, throwing the presidential election in doubt. Double voting is fraud. If Ohio wants to discourage people from committing voter fraud, then it has to aggressively prosecute those cases which give them clear evidence of the crime.
If we intend on having clean elections, we have to punish those who attempt to circumvent the controls. Even Afghanistan knows that, and they’ve had one free election in their entire history. If there are no negative consequences for cheating, within a few election cycles we’ll be electing the most efficient crooks instead of the best candidates.

Democrats Tee Off On Kerry

Earlier today I wrote about the $45 million John Kerry left in his primary election fund instead of spending it on his election or other Democratic races. The AP now reports that Kerry also left an additional $15 million unspent from his federal general-election funds, and his fellow Democrats are now demanding to know why:

Democratic Party leaders said Wednesday they want to know why Sen. John Kerry ended his presidential campaign with more than $15 million in the bank, money that could have helped Democratic candidates across the country. …
“Democrats are questioning why he sat on so much money that could have helped him defeat George Bush or helped down-ballot races, many of which could have gone our way with a few more million dollars,” said Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential race.
Brazile is a member of the 400-plus member Democratic National Committee, which meets early next year to pick a new party chairman. One high-ranking member of the DNC, speaking on condition of anonymity, said word of Kerry’s nest egg has stirred anger on the committee and could hurt his chances of putting an ally in the chairmanship.

After a record fundraising effort, Kerry left more than $60 million on the table, or roughly a dollar for every vote that George Bush won in the election. $45 million had to be spent before the convention, but Kerry could have passed it on to fellow Democrats, especially in Senate races. He had plenty of time in which to do that, as the books closed on primary funding at the end of July when he accepted the nomination. While his fellow Democrats struggled to raise funds — in part because many donors focused on the presidential race — Kerry kept it all to himself.
At least with the primary funds, he could claim the excuse that spending it on himself was illegal. The $15 million in federal funding represents 20% of the entire budget for the general election. How in the world could John Kerry leave 20% of his funds in the bank while he pulled advertising from state after state in the final days of the campaign? Democrats will demand answers from Kerry — and they’re unlikely to sit still for the kind of wishy-washy answers he gave the American electorate in the campaign.
Put frankly, Kerry’s hoarding of the money makes him look like a selfish bastard, and a rather stupid one at that.
Kerry’s Ebenezer Scrooge impersonation is not the only issue with which his fellow Democrats are dissatisfied. A Democratic activist that sank $6 million into efforts to turn out the Hispanic vote declared that Kerry never tried to help:

“John Kerry did not compete adequately for Hispanic votes, period,” said Simon Rosenberg, founder and president of the centrist New Democrat Network, a political organization independent of the national Democratic Party. “If we don’t reverse the gains that President Bush made, we can forget our hope of being a majority party again.” …
Among Rosenberg’s complaints were the Kerry campaign and the DNC lacked a national strategy for Hispanics and did not spend enough money on advertising or enough time campaigning in Hispanic communities and did not employ enough people on the get-out-the-vote effort.

That understates the problem that Kerry presented for Hispanic voters. When Kerry affected their voting at all, he turned the heavily Catholic demographic off by claiming to believe in life at conception while explaining his support for partial-birth abortion. His wife, meanwhile, traveled to New Mexico and insulted the Hispanics whose families go back centuries by lumping them together with illegal immigrants. Perhaps Kerry tried a bit too hard for his own good. At any rate, Rosenberg managed to come up $6 million more than Kerry.
Kerry has made some noise about running for President again in 2008. I’d say he’ll be lucky to run for re-election to the Senate.

Kerry Can’t Stop Hoarding Money

The AP (in the Boston Herald) profiles John Kerry in today’s edition in his return to the Senate after losing the presidential election two weeks ago. The story focuses on Kerry’s equivocating on a possible Presidential run in 2008, but the real blockbuster isn’t Kerry’s unrealistic notions of a do-over but the $45 million he never spent during this last election cycle:

Sen. John Kerry, who has $45 million left from his record-breaking Democratic campaign, hinted on Tuesday that he may try again for the presidency.
On his first workday back in the Senate since losing his White House bid, Kerry remained far from the spotlight, granting interviews to hometown reporters and joining the depleted corps of Democrats as they elected the party’s new Senate leaders.

The news of the $45M nest egg surely has to dismay his supporters, especially with the less-rational of them claiming that the race was so close. The money comes from his primary-season campaign fundraising, not the public money for the general election. That, supposedly, was money Kerry didn’t have in June and July to get his message out, and by the time August rolled around (after the nomination), he couldn’t legally spend it. How smart was that?
Democrats should ask for an accounting from the Kerry campaign. Even if Kerry couldn’t spend the money, he could have transferred some or all of it to other Democratic campaigns around the country, most notably in the Senate. A few million dollars may have made a difference in places like South Dakota, where his own Minority Leader lost by just two percentage points over the GOP challenger. Other Senate races could have been rescued by some assistance from the Democratic frontrunner. Why didn’t he use it instead of hoarding it?
Contrast that to the extensive party-building efforts of the GOP standardbearer; Kerry’s selfish money handling guarantees that no one will trust him with the next nomination. His campaign rolled from one disaster to the next, and if he keeps talking about running again, four years is an awfully long time to get a Freedom of Information Act request processed for the rest of his military and FBI records. It also gives him another four years to add to his mountainous record of flip-flops. In fact, he already started in this interview (emphasis mine):

In his first extensive interview since his Nov. 2 defeat, Kerry was asked by the Fox News affiliate in Boston about running again in 2008 and reminded the questioner that Ohio is still counting votes from 2004.
He then said, “It is so premature to be thinking about something that far down the road. What I’ve said is I’m not opening any doors, I’m not shutting any doors.” Kerry added, “If there’s a next time, we’ll do a better job. We’ll see.”

What is that supposed to mean? That he conceded before he didn’t? Ohio announced yesterday that 81% of the 155,000 provisional ballots were valid, meaning that around 125,000 would be counted. Even if Kerry won every single one of them, he still loses by 11,000 votes. Casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election now does nothing but feed the conspiracy theorists and far-left lunatics that turned off half of America the first time around.
John Kerry should be satisfied to still have a Senate seat left and take some time to smell the Franklins. He earned it; he found a way to take it with him into political death.

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers

In response to the continuing post-mortems on the presidential election, various women’s groups noted that George Bush made significant inroads with women. Exit polling showed that John Kerry only narrowly edged Bush in this demographic, 51-48, while Al Gore had claimed an 11-point gap in 2000. The groups blamed John Kerry and claimed he took them for granted:

Leaders of several women’s groups said Tuesday that Democrat John Kerry fell short in his bid for the White House because he didn’t make a more direct appeal for support from women voters. …
“There was an assumption women would be behind the Kerry campaign,” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. The Bush campaign referred to the liberation of Afghan and Iraqi women to appeal to women voters, said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. But “Kerry never drew a very strong contrast with Bush” on women’s issues until the end of the campaign, said Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations.

Part of Kerry’s problem sprang from his constant need to pander to all constituencies rather than declare his convictions and let the chips fall where they may. His lifelong support for abortion rights, among the most liberal of any politician, suddenly transformed itself into a reluctant disinclination to act upon his supposedly true belief of life beginning at conception — and pro-choicers just as suddenly had no idea where Kerry would go once in office. The soft issues that normally concern women, such as child-care and education issues, wound up just as murky given that Bush had increased education spending a whopping 56% over Clinton-era budgeting.
Mostly, though, women found out that they were more concerned with security and resoluteness in wartime than any of the issues these groups pushed as primary causes. Women decided in almost the same numbers as men that John Kerry’s vacillations left them unable to see him as someone determined to do whatever it takes to keep them safe, too willing to retreat in the face of political criticism rather than pick a course and stick with it. Besides, as the Bush campaign loved pointing out, it’s hard to argue with the track record of liberating women in the Middle East that Bush built in the past three years.
In ordinary times, pandering on Head Start and latchkey kids buys votes, especially from NOW and Feminist Majority. In wartime and especially in the age of terror, moderate women tend to focus on the candidate least likely to sit back and allow their families to get blown up. Kerry simply could not earn their trust, and no amount of flowers brought or love songs sung could make the difference.

Taking On The SEIU

An anti-union watchdog group has filed a complaint against the largest government workers union in the country, alleging that the group illegally spent millions of dollars in dues on partisan political campaigns:

An anti-union group is urging the Federal Election Commission to investigate one of the largest unions in the country, claiming the Service Employees International Union unlawfully spent workers’ dues to elect Democrats in last week’s election.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation said Wednesday that SEIU gave millions of dollars from members’ dues to a partisan political group, America Coming Together, which in turn spent the money illegally to finance political campaigns through the Democratic National Committee.

Using dues, which get extorted from workers in closed shops, for political purposes has been banned for at least the last two years. Unions have to raise money through PACs or 527s with voluntary donations in order to contribute to political campaigns. The SEIU, which endorsed Howard Dean in the primaries and John Kerry in the general election, claims to have spent $65 million, legally, in the 2004 election cycle. That amount of money makes this reply from the SEIU sound rather suspicious:

“We are confident we are in compliance with the law,” said spokeswoman T.J. Michels. “It’s not surprising an anti-union group is making these allegations about a political mobilization spearheaded by thousands of SEIU members who want to put our country back on track for working families.”

If “thousands” of union members donated $65 million for this electoral cycle, it would represent a rather substantial amount per member, wouldn’t it? 100,000 members would have to had donated an average of $650 to the effort. I suppose that’s possible, but if SEIU members have seven C-notes just wasting space in their wallets as a matter of course, then I suspect we’ve found one place where a deficit hawk like Kerry could find some cost savings. And that assumes that “thousands” adds up to six figures, which also seems somewhat doubtful.
Lkke John McCain himself admitted after the 527 debacle this year, money always finds a way back into the process. I’d say that if the SEIU itself claims it spent that much money on this cycle, then at least some of that funding came from the mandatory taxes dues it collects from its membership. Hopefully the FEC will act with haste in investigating this complaint.

All Hail The New Victims — Democrats

Just when I thought it was impossible for Democrats to sink any lower in their post-election tantrums — after all, it’s hard to top secession as a political strategy for the arrested-development set — now they have their very own psychological disorder, according to the Boca Raton News:

The Boca Raton News reported Tuesday that Palm Beach, Florida trauma specialist Douglas Schooler alone has already treated 15 clients and friends with intense hypnotherapy since the Democratic candidate conceded on November 3.
“I had one friend tell me he’s never been so depressed and angry in his life,” Schooler said. “I observed patients threatening to leave the country or staring listlessly into space. They were emotionally paralyzed, shocked and devastated,” he told the daily.
“We’re calling it ‘post-election selection trauma’ and we’re working to develop a counseling program for it,” said Rob Gordon, the Boca Raton-based executive director of the American Health Association.

I have a theory that Democrats are secretly thrilled to have lost this election to George Bush, and this report confirms it. Nothing makes a Leftist happier than to belong to a victim class, and now they have created one that may exceed any that came before. It makes them feel more complete than even an official apology would. Next up, of course, is forcing employers and health-care providers to recognize it as a disability under ADA.
I would have thought that such a report could only be published by the Onion, but unfortunately this may be the least irrational reaction by Democrats this week. We’ve had MS-NBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell call for secession, his colleague Keith Olbermann proclaim the election rigged (while providing no evidence whatsoever), and massive requests for immigration information from Kerry supporters to everywhere except, oddly enough, France.
So far, the Democrats are demonstrating that they are anything but; in order to support democracy, one has to accept when their candidate loses as well as when they win. I’d like to ask how it feels to be less committed to democracy than the Afghanis, whose opposition candidates readily accepted their election results despite numerous hardships and difficulties. It’s embarrassing when mainstream voices in a major party call for the breakup of the United States, and it’s an insult to the men who gave their lives to keep the Union together less than 150 years ago, especially since the stakes are so superficial and petty.
At least they gave the “illness” a good name. Post-election selection trauma, or PEST, describe these summer patriots to a T.

Not Just A River In Egypt, Part 37B

The Washington Post’s Mike Allen reports that John Kerry is “fired up” and plans to be an activist when he returns to the Senate in the next session. In fact, he’s giving the impression that he wants to give the presidency another shot in 2008:

Democrat John F. Kerry plans to use his Senate seat and long lists of supporters to remain a major voice in American politics despite losing the presidential race last Tuesday, and he is assessing the feasibility of trying again in 2008, friends and aides said yesterday.
Kerry will attend a post-election lame-duck Senate session that begins next week and has said he is “fired up” to play a highly visible role, the friends and aides said.

If so, it would be the first time in twenty years. His previous visibility remained limited to six bills in twenty years and the Iran-Contra investigation from over seventeen years ago. If he pushes through two bills in the next year, he’ll have increased his visibility sixfold.

Bob Shrum, Kerry’s chief campaign consultant, told reporters during a Democratic panel yesterday that Kerry “will not do what Al Gore did after the last election — he will not disappear.”
“He will be active and vocal,” Shrum said. “He has one of the most powerful lists in the Democratic Party and one of the most powerful fundraising bases in the Democratic Party, and I think he intends to use it to speak out.”
Several Democrats expressed skepticism about Kerry’s plans, saying they believe the party needs a fresh face and must turn a corner. One well-known Democratic operative who worked with the Kerry campaign said opposition to Bush, not excitement about Kerry, was behind the senator’s fundraising success. “If he thinks he’s going to capitalize on that going forward, he’s in for a surprise,” said the operative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Al Gore disappeared because no one could imagine a sitting vice-president losing a presidential bid in a time of supposed peace and prosperity. John Kerry at least can convince himself that he fell short because Americans don’t dump a president in the middle of a war, but he’s living in denial if (a) he thinks that the Democrats will trust him with the keys to the car again, and (b) that he inspired any significant segment to support him rather than hate George Bush. And George Bush won’t be running in 2008, which eliminates his primary qualification for his candidacy.

How About This: Kerry Was A Lousy Candidate?

I took a peek at the headlines this morning, while I’m wrapping up my vacation in Southern California, and the one story that really caught my eye was Howard Kurtz’s piece on post-election analysis by the media. If you listen to the talking heads on TV, you hear all sorts of notions about why George Bush beat John Kerry: gay marriage, evangelicals, Michael Moore, red-America brain death, and so on. Kurtz analyzes the analysts in his own somewhat cynical style:

The Democrats were clueless on moral values. John Kerry was a lousy candidate. A northerner can’t win anymore. The Bush team was better at manipulating the press. No one trusts the Democrats on national security. The gay marriage issue badly hurt the party. The Democrats need to move right, or left, or south, or undergo a personality transplant, or change the Constitution so Bill Clinton can run again. …
The sudden focus on “family values” comes from the 22 percent of voters in exit polls who named that as their top issue, followed by 20 percent who chose the economy. But as Simon notes, “all that is based on the same flawed exit polls” that journalists are criticizing for a tilt toward Kerry. And how many are willing to tell pollsters that moral values aren’t important?
Goldberg, a card-carrying conservative, says that since his side won, it’s pundits on the left who are taking their hand-wringing to a higher level: “Liberals need to come up with grand theories. Their explanations are far more existential. They get to be very literary and metaphorical and Freudian and flowery.”

What has been missed in the avalanche of what Goldberg calls grand theories is a prosaic truth: elections are about trust. In the end, the Democrats nominated a man that most voters cannot trust, based on a public track record of politically expedient reversals and his post-Vietnam activities. Democrats thought the latter would actually be Kerry’s strength in an age of terror, which shows how out of touch they really are.
The media, which exerted itself mightily on Kerry’s behalf and may well have wounded itself mortally in the process, has tried to explain away the results in a number of fashions, most of them focusing on the ignorance of the voter. They use the same discredited exit polling which showed Kerry winning by a landslide to determine that George Bush won because middle America wants to turn the Midwest into Jesusland. What piffle! If it hadn’t been for the unrelentingly negative coverage given Iraq (and Afghanistan, before the success of the elections surprised the media), Kerry would have lost the election by ten points, maybe fifteen.
Its true that the Democrats have lost touch with mainstream America, it’s true that Hollywood repels voters in huge numbers, and it’s true that morality and values inform our public choices — even John Kerry asserted that while he explained his support for partial-birth abortions. And none of that would have mattered one iota had the Democrats nominated a candidate that people could trust.
John Kerry was a lousy candidate and an inept campaigner, something that should have been obvious in 1996, when the Kennedy protege nearly lost what should have been a gimme election to William Weld. Why did the Democrats nominate him instead of their VP candidate from 2000, who should have logically been the standardbearer this year? Now that’s the question they should be asking themselves.

Campaign Finance Reform Lays A Very Expensive Egg

The New York Times performs a post-mortem on the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act as implemented in the 2004 election cycle, and while Glen Justice never mentions the word “failure” in his analysis, the data more than suggests that verdict:

The McCain-Feingold law, which did more to change how American political campaigns are financed than any legislation since the 1970’s, got its first real-world test in this year’s election. And now its critics are more emphatic than ever in arguing that the law has fallen short of its goals, and even some supporters are calling for revisions. …
The major advocacy groups at work in this year’s elections, called 527 groups after the section in the tax code that created them, raised more than $350 million, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks campaign finance.
While it is axiomatic in politics that each race will cost more than the last, and while final numbers will not be in for weeks, the figures posted through mid-October set records even though candidates and parties were restricted for the first time to only hard-money donations.
The field of presidential candidates raised about $851 million (including public financing), a 70 percent increase over 2000. National political parties raised more than $1 billion, 12 percent more than when they were able to gather six- and seven-figure soft-money checks.
In total, this year’s races for Congress and the White House are estimated to have cost roughly $3.9 billion, about a third more than they did four years ago, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign spending.

John McCain promised at the time his eponymous act passed that the new law would eliminate “checkbook politics” and lead to cleaner elections. Within two years, in the very next election cycle, McCain was proven to be as wrong as possible. The richest people in America wrote checks like crazy — George Soros spent $29 million alone, and he wasn’t running for office.
McCain and the rest of the campaign-finance reformers make the same mistake in assuming that money corrupts the system. The corrosive effect of money comes from the secrecy in which it passes through the hands of politicians, not from the money itself. By setting up artificial and silly categories of money, all that the government has done is forced the financing out of the hands of people who exercise the most responsibility for its use — the political parties themselves — and into groups with no political accountability whatsoever. The result was the meanest, ugliest presidential campaign in recent memory.
McCain insists that the FEC simply didn’t adjust to the new uses of campaign cash quickly enough, but that can’t be done without authority from Congress. The truth was that McCain’s bill was poorly written and allowed a number of loopholes, and the nebulous nature of the bill guaranteed that the FEC could do little except allow events to run their course. Nor will suggestions for excising these loopholes correct the main problem, and chances are these ideas will not pass First Amendment muster with the Supreme Court now that they’ve seen the results of their initial approval of the reform laws.
The only method of reforming politics and financing is to require full, personal, and immediate disclosure of all contributions and ensure that the money goes directly to the candidates. In that way, the public will see whose money supports which candidate and the candidates can be held directly responsible for the use of the financing. Playing games with money by creating artificial categories and Byzantine regulations regarding its use only benefits the lawyers that campaigns are forced to hire by the gross and ultimately piles more mystery on its origin and control. It’s far past time to scrap the entire “reform” machinery and rely on full disclosure and the resourcefulness of the voters and press to hold candidates accountable.