Behind the Attack -- Many people were surprised to hear that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce turned out to be the group responsible for the attack ads on former Washington State Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn, who was running for Attorney General. It seems more like a group interested in gathering dues than a political hatchet-wielder. Turns out, that's just what it is, and now that the dust has settled this looks like a case of payback for Senn's penchant for fighting corporations. Just this summer, the New Republic ran a story on the changing nature of the pro-business group. Make that big business, according to the story, which quoted Spokane businessman Chris Marr, an active Democrat who criticized the Chamber.
"I think the U.S. Chamber has become out of touch with main street America," Marr told the magazine. The story went on to document how many small businesses had been dropping out as members of the group because of its increasingly right-wing politics.
It wasn't always that way; in fact, the group endorsed many of President Clinton's economic initiatives. The D.C.-based U.S. Chamber even went so far as to endorse parts of Clinton's controversial health care proposal. As the article details, Republicans in Congress ordered them to change their position. In 1993, Republican Ohio Congressman John Boehner told Chamber officials that it was "the Chamber's duty to categorically oppose everything that Clinton was in favor of."
Now, just a decade later, the group has announced it will "work fervently" to defeat John Kerry this November. And apparently they have a few other scores to settle in this election, too.
Notable Quotes -- "[I have] no ambition whatsoever to use the war [on 'terrorism'] as a political issue."
-- President Bush in January 2002
"During the 2000 campaign, when Bush said he was against nation building, I didn't realize he meant only our nation."
-- Al Franken, whose left-leaning Air America radio show is winning a bigger audience than Rush Limbaugh in many markets across the country (although no local stations have picked it up yet)
"Naturally, the common people don't want war, but... the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism... It works the same in every country."
-- Nazi mastermind Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946
Publication date: 09/16/04