February 28, 2008

George Will on McCain's Fancy Financing Footwork

Somebody needs to collar George Will and tell him to stop telling the truth about McCain--unless everyone wants to endure 4 years of changiness:

McCain should thank the [New York] Times... because its semi-steamy story distracted attention from an unsavory story about McCain's dexterity in gaming the system for taxpayer financing of campaigns. Last summer, when his mismanagement of his campaign left it destitute, he applied for public funding, which entails spending limits. He seemed to promise to use tax dollars as partial collateral for a bank loan.

There are two ways for a candidate to get on Ohio's primary ballot -- comply with complex, expensive rules for gathering signatures or simply be certified to receive taxpayer funding. McCain's major Republican rivals did the former. He did the latter.

Democrats, whose attachment to campaign reforms is as episodic as McCain's, argue that having made such uses of promised matching funds, McCain is committed to taking them and abiding by spending limits -- which would virtually silence his campaign until the September convention. This would be condign punishment for his argument that restricting spending does not restrict speech. But Bradley Smith offers him some support.

When Smith chaired the Federal Election Commission, he voiced skepticism about the wisdom and constitutionality of aspects of McCain-Feingold's campaign regulations. McCain responded characteristically, impugning Smith's character. When, at a 2004 Senate hearing, Smith nevertheless extended his hand to McCain, McCain refused to shake it....

Although his campaign is run by lobbyists; and although his dealings with lobbyists have generated what he, when judging the behavior of others, calls corrupt appearances; and although he has profited from his manipulation of the taxpayer-funding system that is celebrated by reformers -- still, he probably is innocent of insincerity. Such is his towering moral vanity, he seems sincerely to consider it theoretically impossible for him to commit the offenses of appearances that he incessantly ascribes to others.

By Ragnar Danneskjold, Typical Bitter Gun-Clinger at 10:14 AM | Comments |