Harry’s dirty war

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has extended his campaign against Charles and David Koch to amendment of the Constitution. Reid supports amendment of the Constitution to allow Congress to regulate the Kochs campaign contributions. The amendment is phrased in impersonal terms — Byron York quotes the text in this column — but Reid has the Kochs on his mind:

The Kochs’ bid for a hostile takeover of American democracy is calculated to make themselves even richer. Yet the Kochs and their Republican followers in Congress continue to assert that these hundreds of millions of dollars are free speech. For evidence of that, look no further than the Republican Leader, who has flat out said, ‘in our society, spending is speech.’…

The Supreme Court has equated money with speech, so the more money you have, he more speech you get, and the more influence in our democracy. That is wrong. Every American should have the same ability to influence our political system. One American, one vote. That’s what the constitution guarantees. The Constitution does not give corporations a vote. And the Constitution does not give dollar bills a vote…

I urge my colleagues to support this constitutional amendment — to rally behind our democracy. I understand what we Senate Democrats are proposing is no small thing — amending our Constitution is not something we take lightly. But the flood of special interest money into our American democracy is one of the greatest threats our system of government has ever faced. Let’s keep our elections from becoming speculative ventures for the wealthy and put a stop to the hostile takeover of our democratic system by a couple of billionaire oil barons.

The proposed amendment would catch up the likes of George Soros or Tom Steyer and other Democratic moneybags, though you’d never know it from Greg Sargent’s excited account at the Washington Post.

Sargent is excited by the high regard in which Harry Reid holds him. Reid gave Sargent an advance look at his speech on the Senate floor (quoted above) this past Thursday. Sargent fails to notice that stupider words have not been spoken in the Senate since Reid commandeered the floor on Wednesday.

Sargent probably won’t lose his enthusiasm for the regulation of political speech until it touches that portion of the 1 percent who own newspapers. A proposal along those lines might help Sargent understand the relation between money and speech, but I doubt it. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson in a different context, we can give him the argument, but we can’t give him an understanding of it, or of the profound disgrace into which Harry Reid daily leads the United States Senate.

PAUL ADDS: Rich Lowry writes: “I think Harry Reid should go all the way and try to amend the Constitution to eliminate the prohibition against bills of attainder; then, he can legislate against the Koch brothers directly.”

Responses