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E J Dionne on the Shadow Democratic Strategy

Harold Ickes has put reform-minded Democrats in a spot -- and on the spot. ...

Along comes Ickes with a new idea. Under Section 527 of the tax code, political committees get special tax treatment as not-for-profit operations. Ickes created a special 527 committee to raise money for ads directed at Bush. With Bush saturating swing states with his own media spots, Ickes asked, shouldn't Democrats find a way to respond? ...

A lot of Democratic reformers would prefer not to talk about the Media Fund. They're grateful for its work and don't want to challenge efforts to beat Bush on the basis of what they see as a close legal question. Such Democrats say that many Republicans who have opposed limits on campaign fundraising are now being hypocritical in going after Ickes. That's true but, I fear, shortsighted. My hunch is that in the long run, the country -- and, yes, especially Democrats -- will regret opening a new loophole in the campaign money system so soon after some of the more notorious of the old ones were shut down. -- E. J. Dionne, Jr, Playing With Fire on 'Soft Money' (washingtonpost.com)