I was wondering whether it might be a good idea to start a support group for progressives (or center-left types) who really believe in reining in the role of money in politics and also really believe that part of the current bill may be bad policy and unconstitutional.
It’s no fun believing something on principle and finding yourself standing together with a bunch of wretches who merely believe in protecting the power of organized wealth to beat back popular and necessary reforms. But what are you gonna do?
I’m speaking of course about the part of the soon-to-be-law which places limits on advertising by independent issue advocacy groups in the lead-up to elections. We’ll be saying more about this soon and also getting into the reluctant but growing reservations I have about the campaign finance laws we already have.
For the moment though let me touch on another point.
Why is Ken Starr the lead attorney for the legal challenge to McCain-Feingold?
For my part, I believe that Starr’s ethical standing and integrity are deeply compromised by a host of things he did while he was Independent Counsel in the Whitewater investigation. Of course I’m not a neutral observer and I have strongly held views on the matter. But let’s assume that you don’t believe as I do. Still, why is he the lead attorney?
You don’t have to believe that Starr did anything wrong as IC to recognize the unavoidable truth that he has become a deeply polarizing figure with a very high partisan profile. Fair or not, it’s just a fact.
Doesn’t selecting him to head up the legal team saddle the constitutional question with all of Starr’s baggage and give the legal battle an even more partisan (in the worst sense of the word) color than it already does and inevitably will?
The decision is even more puzzling when you figure that Starr doesn’t even seem particularly well qualified for the job. Starr is, as far as I knew, an appellate lawyer, not a first amendment expert — as many of the other members of the team are. That doesn’t mean his expertise is deficient, per se. But it certainly rules out any thought that his qualifications somehow trump his too-apparent liabilities.
It seems to me that Mitch McConnell has done everyone a great disservice with this pick. Why he’s done so, I’m really not sure.