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McCain’s cavalier dismissal of free speech is particularly disturbing since his effort to “clean up” politics has had the primary impact of strengthening incumbents. Instead of allowing voters to decide what information is relevant and valuable, he believes that he should make that decision for everyone else.
Indeed, McCain’s argument is extraordinary: “these ads are almost always negative attack ads, and do little to further beneficial debate and healthy political dialogue” (which presumably is defined as singing the praises of senators running for reelection).
In his Supreme Court brief defending the legislation, McCain opined: “These ads are direct, blatant attacks on the candidates. We don’t think that’s right.” Of course. What incumbent believes “direct, blatant attacks” on his or her record are right? But since when should elected officials be able to limit criticism by others, especially shortly before an election?
THERE’S ALSO THE SPECTER of McCain taking “millions of dollars from the corrupting ‘special interests’ that he decries,” notes a new report by the Citizens United Political Victory Fund. The former chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee has raised money from self-interested supplicants to fund his campaigns (remember S&L magnate Charles Keating) and his so-called “Reform Institute” (such as Cablevision). McCain’s Straight Talk America PAC also has sprinkled special interest money among political groups and GOP candidates. But what’s a little hypocrisy among friends?
McCain’s hostility to the basic right of free speech reflects an authoritarian core. That core also explains his choice of political models (the odious Theodore Roosevelt), and his positions on other issues.
For instance, McCain backs conscription and national service. There is no more expansive and extensive assertion of government authority. It is hard to imagine a greater opportunity for abuse than to turn the lives of millions of young people over to the federal government in the name of “service.”
Related is McCain’s view of government as national nanny. He has crusaded against the tobacco companies and pushed for “yet more vigor in fighting the War on Meth,” in the words of Matt Welch of Reason magazine. That misguided effort has made it harder for normal people to purchase common cold medicine.
McCain also has pushed for federal control over boxing and, even more bizarrely, steroid use by professional athletes. It might be stupid for athletes to use steroids. It might be important for professional sports leagues to ban drug use by their players. But why should this be a government, let alone national government, responsibility?
If there is a consistent thread to McCain’s positions, it is, says Welch, “an increase in the power of the federal government, particularly in the executive branch.” Great. We are suffering through eight years of increasing executive power in the name of conservatism under George W. Bush. All we need is another eight years of increasing executive power in the name of conservatism under John McCain.
As the Citizens United Political Victory Fund concludes: “John McCain is pandering to us, in the hope that we will minimize his past apostasy. But the apostasy isn’t just in the past—it’s in the very fiber of his character.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?