August 25, 2004

McCain-Feingold II
Posted by Dale Franks

There is an excellent editorial in the Wall Street Journal (not available online, unfortunately), abd George W. Bush and his craven caving in on the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law.

President Bush didn't tell the full story on Monday when he denounced TV ads by such "527s" as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. But not because he didn't agree to the Kerry campaign's demand that he repudiate the specific Swift Boat ads.

Our gripe is that Mr. Bush assailed the very campaign-finance system that he helped create."I don't think we ought to have 527s," Mr. Bush said, referring to the independent political fund-raising groups that have become such an important part of this election season. "And I hope my opponent joins me in saying, condemning those activities of the 527s. It's the -- I think they're bad for the system."

Not so fast, Mr. President. One reason 527s are so prominent now is because Mr. Bush made the mistake of signing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" that barred big donations to political parties. So 527s have become the new alternative vehicle that Americans passionate about politics are using to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech. The difference is that now the campaigns can't control how that money is spent.

If Mr. Bush wanted the two major parties to better control their campaign messages, he could have vetoed McCain-Feingold. Some of us urged him to do so, but his political advisers whispered not to worry, the Supreme Court will take care of it.

Well, Sandra Day O'Connor failed too, but in any event since when are Presidents supposed to pass the buck to judges?

In our view, this was among the worst moments of Mr. Bush's term. Having helped to midwife the current campaign-finance system, it ill behooves him to blame others for the way this world works.

A very good "gotcha" from the WSJ's I told you so file. After being hammered by MoveOn.org for the last two years, I'll bet Bush would love to get rid of the 527 organizations.

At this point, the best scenario I could possibly hope for is that politics becomes so down and dirty, and so divisive, that Congress goes back and repeals this travesty of a law post-haste. Let, as Mao once said, a thousand flowers bloom. Let the air be filled with the sounds of TV ads of increasing moonbattery. Let every politician running for office have his name, his reputation, and his family savaged by independent ad groups.

Then we'll see how long McCain-Feingold holds up.

Money is, has been, and will always be the mother's milk of politics. Even the founders knew it. Unlike us, however, they were too smart to try to make Utopian changes the way the real world works.

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Comments

Here's McCain's latest on the attack ads by the SwiftVets and his comments on Bush not going far enough.

McCain says attack ads reopen Vietnam wounds

Posted by: Kathy at August 25, 2004 08:05 PM

Hoss, the "thousand flowers" reference is pretty odious. That particular Maoist campaign rates right up there with same league as "arbeit macht frei" in terms of being the historical example you want to highlight your case.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at August 26, 2004 01:26 AM

Can I complain again? Bush is a fu88ing asshole. When he signed McCain/Feingold, he said he was concerned about free speech. Now he says he wants to ban free speech. And to the republiclans that count on people not seeing the lies, fu88 you. Your disrespect of the non-political real people will cost you.

Posted by: mkultra at August 26, 2004 02:06 AM

Howabout the Democrats who voted for the bill, mkultra, are you saying fu88 them as well?

Posted by: Dave at August 26, 2004 09:20 AM

Then we'll see how long McCain-Feingold holds up

You don't imagine they're going to get rid of it, do you? They'll pull the noose tighter. 527s will be muzzled. Each channel for political expression by other than campaigns will become a "loophole" and be choked off in turn (or until the SC has had enough... which if they didn't kill off McCain-Feingold, I'm not sure when or whether they'll respond to further measures).

I wouldn't be surprised to see a serious attempt to muzzle blogs during the next election cycle. Starting with banning anonymous blogging, requiring revealing name, address, employer, etc.

Posted by: jaed at August 26, 2004 10:19 AM

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