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August 23, 2004

Bush: Suppress Free Speech

It's quite amazing. Bush refuses to denounce the Swift Boat Ads as slimy politics. Instead, he wants to use them to call for ending all independent ads in the campaign. My purely personal view was always that the McCain-Feingold law was not going to end corporate-dominated politics, but the idea of the law was to at least cut the direct ties of big money campaign contributions directly to candidates to end quid-pro-quo deals.

But the Supreme Court long ago made clear that when people spend their own money independently of political campaigns, they have a free speech right to do so. There may be some regulations that can be imposed-- disclosure and like-minded reforms-- but Bush calling to end all independent political spending is almost totalitarian in its implication, as if there can be no viewpoints expressed other than the annointed nominees of each party.

Of course, Bush doesn't believe his line-- it's just a cynical lie that's useful as an opportunistic statement. In fact, when he signed the McCain-Feingold bill, he made clear that he objected to restricting independent expenditures during elections:

I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an election. I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions as appropriate under the law.
So Bush is just a flip-flopper on independent spending during elections. But what else is new?

Posted by Nathan at August 23, 2004 07:50 PM