March 07, 2004

Letter to the Paper VI

Hellblazer writes that I'm not only whiny because I don't like the idea that 9/11 is only ok to bring up in Democrat campaign materials, but that the RNC is the real free speech villain because they are trying to get campaign commercials pulled as they violate the new rules of McCain-Feingold.

Here's the reply I left in his comments:

The position that I've had has always been that the campaign finance rules were idiotic and that full disclosure and unlimited free speech are the best rule for the US political system.

That being said, after an incredible multi-year demonization campaign, largely run by left wing and Democrat partisans (though some Republicans, most famously John McCain, were leaders in this), the law has changed and everybody's required to follow the new rules.

The truth is that Democrats shot themselves in the foot with McCain-Feingold, as a matter of practical partisan politics. That they did so in the pursuit of an outrageous violation of the US Constitution's guarantee of free speech (yes, I know the USSC doesn't agree) makes it all the more delicious that they find themselves in a practical bind because they are unable to raise as many hard dollars as Republicans. Now the 527 committees are a game that both sides are playing, just like the soft money awfulness that arose out of Buckley v. Valeo. But these new committees have to follow the rules. They can avoid the restrictions (like individuals can avoid taxes) but they cannot evade them (in tax terms that's an audit, a fine, and maybe jail time if you're blatant about it).

The truth is that the law has changed in the past year. For a lawyer to claim that it's relevant that such commercials were legal under the Buckley v. Valeo rules is simply not relevant. Commercials that run now have to comply with the law after McCain-Feingold, the FEC rulings implementing it and the USSC affirming its constitutionality. If you don't like your free speech infringed (and I agree that this infringement is outrageous), you should have the law changed.

The worst result possible is to have one or both sides violate the law instead of changing the law to conform with the well understood limits to government action regarding free speech that ruled from the founding into the 1970s. That's what is trying to accomplish. That's what the RNC is calling them on. And if it takes a few pulled TV licenses to create a new majority coalition to repeal McCain Feingold's free speech limitations, so be it.

Oh, I forgot to directly quote the's lawyer comment. Here it is:

"The federal campaign laws have permitted precisely this use of money for advertising for the past 25 years," he said.

Again, the point of McCain-Feingold was to make certain things that were legal for the past quarter-century illegal. I hope they aren't paying this lawyer much. Even if he's pro-bono, he's being compensated too much.

Posted by TMLutas at March 7, 2004 05:27 PM