Will he accept public financing for his presidential campaign or will he just stuff his pockets with "special interest money" like everyone else, him being Mr. Reform and all? John McCain: Hypocrite-in-Chief?

Last week, the new website, politico.com, got a scoop.  U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful John McCain intends to introduce legislation to "further clamp down" on so-called "527 groups."  Those are organized groups of citizens – right, left, center and wacko – which raise and spend money independent of political campaigns to make their positions known in the political process.

Scoop, yes.  News, no.  Only to the nave or uninformed would it be news that John McCain, who has spent much of his Senate efforts trampling the First Amendment, is continuing his johnbooted efforts to silence voices other than his own.  In fact, John McCain has made an excellent haul for a long time in trying to get "special interest money" out of other people's politics, while stuffing as much as he could into his own campaign coffers.

Still, in a week of Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, McCain's announced intention seemed odd.  It was odd.  In fact, it was a classic political ploy:  change the subject.  You see, the media had been asking McCain's office about a specific question posed to him by the Center for Individual Freedom.

Will he accept public financing for his presidential campaign or will he just stuff his pockets with "special interest money" like everyone else, him being Mr. Reform and all?  In 2000, in his losing primary bid for the presidency, he took the public financing, him being Mr. Maverick and all back then.  But today, he doesn't want to answer the question.  He really doesn't want to answer the question.  So he changed the subject to bury the question.  But in doing so, he really stepped in it.

Here's what one of his presidential campaign spokesmen said:  "He is a conservative candidate.  He is going to run on reform should he decide to run.  He's committed to reducing the amount of special interest money involved in politics.  He has been.  He will remain so."

Problem is, Senator McCain's definition of "reform" is driven by self-interest.  The law generally known as "McCain-Feingold," the heretofore crowning achievement of his efforts, had one key element:  to suppress the voices of the people in the public square.  McCain's law is so complicated that one dare not say "boo" without the approval of multiple lawyers.  It is so chilling to political speech by anyone who is not a candidate that it became aptly described as "the incumbent protection act." 

Get close to an election, when people are paying attention, and you can't even mention the names of those clowns in advertising even if you only want to petition them to stop taxing your grandmother, which is why groups like the Center for Individual Freedom periodically must fall uncharacteristically silent on matters of importance.

Since even tyrants like John McCain can't think of every possible contingency, so-called "527 groups," which are formed and financed for the sole purpose of political speech, slipped the noose.  McCain has been angry about that ever since.  Well, not to worry, he'll fix that by 2008, when it matters most to him.

Any restriction on the legitimate use of money for political speech is not "reform," it is suppression.  Understanding of and opposition to that should not be "conservative," but there is almost no recognition for constitutional imperatives among liberals.

It is sometimes said, but rarely recognized, that everyone in America is a special interest.  In fact, everyone in America has multiple special interests that form whatever political interests each has.  The magnificence of our entire constitutional system is that it intended to allow all the voices of all those interests to be raised – individually, collectively and, inevitably, in conflict with one another toward public policy resolution. 

Don't like what your neighbor says?  Reject it or answer with your own point of view, privately or publicly.  Get others to join you.  Collect money to buy ads to amplify your viewpoint.  But do not attempt to suppress your neighbor's speech.  Do not as an individual, because that is wrong.  Do not as the government, because the constitution prohibits it.

This is not deep thought, not suspect principle, except by those who, like McCain, would use the unfair advantage of incumbency to protect and advance that incumbency.

John McCain is not a conservative.  He is an opportunist.  John McCain is not a reformer.  He's a hypocrite.  In fact, there is a reasonable body of thought that John McCain made "reform" a centerpiece of his perennial platform because of an ethical lapse in his past.  Remember the "Keating Five?"  Probably not, but we have a feeling that you may get some help with your memory as the presidential campaign heats up.

For the moment, John McCain is in desperate need of an intervention.  He needs to hear from thousands of citizens who just want him to answer whether or not he is going to abide by the public financing limits that would be the mark of a true reformer or just continue to take all the money he can get to further his political ambitions.

Please join us in demanding an answer to that question by signing CFIF's online petition here today and getting others to sign it after you do. 

That's political speech that John McCain can't suppress...yet.

February 01, 2007
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