Interesting tidbit from today's George Will column, on Sen. Eugene McCarthy:
McCarthy's insurgency, the most luminous memory of many aging liberals, would today be impossible -- criminal, actually -- thanks to the recent ``reform'' most cherished by liberals, the McCain-Feingold campaign regulations. McCarthy's audacious challenge to an incumbent president was utterly dependent on large early contributions from five rich liberals. Stewart Mott's $210,000 would be more than $1.2 million in today's dollars. McCain-Feingold codifies two absurdities: large contributions are inherently evil, and political money can be limited without limiting political speech. McCain-Feingold criminalizes the sort of seed money that enabled McCarthy to be heard. Under McCain-Feingold's current limit of $2,100 per contributor, McCarthy's top five contributors combined could have given just $10,500, which in 1968 dollars would have been just $1,834.30. But, then, McCain-Feingold was written by incumbents to protect what they cherish: themselves.
I had a similar comment about Fighting Bob LaFollette in one of my previous columns:
Running for President, then as now, requires money, and LaFollette received his share of help on that score. As he himself wrote in "LaFollette’s Autobiography":
“The two Pinchots and Kent had each furnished a contribution of $10,000… Crane was contributing $5,000 a month, and had agreed to continue his payments monthly until the time of the meeting of the National Convention in Chicago.”
That’s Amos and Gifford Pinchot, who were born to wealth on the East Coast; and Congressman William Kent, from California. Adjusted for inflation, their $10,000 contributions would be worth $200,000 in today’s dollars.
That’s $200,000 each.
Charles Crane, whose family owned manufacturing interests in Chicago, was giving the equivalent of $100,000 a month.
Naughty, naughty, naughty, to sell themselves to the highest bidder like that.