Debra J. Saunders
The Democratic Party has become the entrenched self-preservation party. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is its Pied Piper.

This week, Reid called for a vote on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Everyone knew the measure would fail, and it did, leaving supporters angry that in his fervor to make Republicans look obstructionist, Reid damaged their cause. Ditto his decision to put the DREAM Act -- a measure that would provide citizenship for young people who were in the country illegally but had attended college or served in the military -- in a military spending bill.

Why would a political leader call for votes that he knows he will lose? Reid spokesman Jim Manley told Politico, "It's about Senate Republicans' pattern of obstructing debate on myriad policies of critical importance to the American people."

My take: Reid is desperate to gin up anger among Nevada's Latino and gay voters as he seeks re-election. Toward that end, he appears willing to hurt the very causes he supports.

The latest CBS News/New York Times poll shows that 58 percent of voters disapprove of how the Democrats are running Congress, and Reid is about to give skeptics more reason to think less of Reid and company.

Today Reid will hold a re-vote on the DISCLOSE Act, which is supposed to stand for "Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections." Supporters argue that this campaign-finance reform measure simply would bring transparency to independent campaign expenditures. As Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sponsor of the bill, once put it, "All we're saying is that if you attack us, put your name on the ad."

But there is such a thing as too much disclosure. As the ACLU's Washington legislative director wrote of a House version of the bill, "The DISCLOSE Act mandates disclaimers on television and radio advertisements that are so burdensome they would either drown out the intended message or discourage groups from speaking out at all ... More than half of many 30-second television messages would be filled with compelled disclosures."

In addition, the Schumer bill stifles targeted political speech. The conservative Center for Competitive Politics reported that the Schumer bill "contains outright prohibitions on the speech of government contractors and companies with international investors. No prohibitions exist for similarly situated labor unions."


Debra J. Saunders


 
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