The New York Times gave its endorsements in the presidential primaries last week. They gave their wholehearted support to Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, but felt obligated to proffer up an endorsement for the Republicans, too. But while Hillary got the full wet kiss with tongue, John McCain got the Hollywood air kiss.
Ah, John McCain. Mr. Straight Talk. The American hero looking to collect his due, which was diabolically stolen from him in 2000.
Well, it seems that Mr. Campaign Reform has a few skeletons in his own closet.
First up, let’s talk about his proudest legislative achievement, the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act.
And I’d better write this quickly, because as I understand the provisions of that law, it might be illegal for me to write this shortly after September starts.
I have absolutely no idea how the Supreme Court decided that McCain-Feingold (I’m sorry, the “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002”) withstood Constitutional muster. It’s nothing less than a wholesale raping of the First Amendment, spelling out just what people not only can not say, but what they do.
Probably the dumbest aspect is the candidate voiceover at the end of ads it mandates. Here in New Hampshire, I lost count of how many ads I heard that consisted of the candidate addressing the listener directly, and concluding with “I’m Candidate X, and I approved this message.” No duh, dummy. I just heard you say it all in your own voice.
Another rankly offensive part of the Act is how it led to the proliferation of so-called “527 groups.” These federally-recognized non-profit organizations soaked up pretty much all the money that the bill was supposed to get out of politics, and dumped it right back in. (After taking their cut, of course.) At one point during the 2004 election, I took a look at the 527 groups, and it was rather enlightening. It turned out that the whole part of the law dealing with these groups was, apparently, a way for George Soros to attempt to buy the election.
Thanks, Senator Straight Talk.
But the Act goes far, far beyond that. It restricts ads put out by anyone but a campaign within 60 days of an election. If a group decides that it has a very strong stance on an issue, and finds a candidate that it views as a threat to that position, they better get all they need to say said two full months before the actual election — and hope the voters remember it on election day.
OK, we can excuse McCain for not fully anticipating the repercussions of his bill. After all, he’d only been in the Senate for 16 years at that point, and it takes time to learn the ropes.
But for someone who’s made a key point out of cleaning up politics, McCain has a rather spotty record when it comes to ethics.
He was involved in the Charles Keating Savings And Loan scandal. He didn’t get indicted or anything, but was rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting a lot of gifts and favors from Keating, and then meeting with federal regulators on Keating’s behalf. (“Quid pro quo” is such an ugly term, so we won’t use it here.)
More recently, McCain started the “Reform Institute.” This group’s lofty goals are to clean up politics. Mainly, though, it seems that its main purpose has been to 1) soak up money from George Soros, and 2) keep McCain’s campaign staff together and gainfully employed between his various runs for re-election and the presidency.
Oh, and it also kept a former Mexican cabinet official who is a staunch opponent to any sort of border enforcement on staff, until McCain needed a “Hispanic Outreach Coordinator” on his campaign staff.
John McCain’s sense of political ethics is almost positively Clintonian. It’s no wonder that the New York Times chose to endorse him and Hillary.
It must never be forgotten that John McCain served our nation with the utmost honor in Vietnam. He was the son and grandson of admirals who served with genuine distinction, making the McCain family a truly rare thing: three generations of genuine American heroes.
It’s just a shame that his fierce integrity and devotion to principle hasn’t extended to his own political conduct.
Ed Morrissey, the exceptional man behind Captain’s Quarters Blog, provided truly remarkable information on John McCain — see here. Michelle Malkin has also done yeoman’s work on McCain, building on Morrissey’s work here and here.