Friday, February 01, 2008

McCain Derangement Syndrome Issue #1: McCain is Against Political Free Speech

One of the hot-button issues for the anti-McCainanites is McCain-Feingold-THOMPSON.

This as much as anything pretty well sums up the criticism.

Although Michael Medved (who endorses McCain) also sees it as a useless piece of legislation, he does not believe it has created the mountain of problems that the hard-line conservatives say it has.

In Medved's Six Big Lies About John McCain, campaign finance reform is addressed in Lie #6:
LIE #6: McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform represents a devastating assault on free speech.

TRUTH: McCain-Feingold was a piece of useless, misguided legislation but it’s done no serious damage to the country, the constitution or the conservative pro-life cause. After nearly seven years on the books, robust and impassioned discussion of political issues and candidates is more vibrant and free-wheeling than ever. The pro-life movement (with McCain’s enthusiastic support) has made substantial progress in the last seven years, changing minds and hearts and driving abortion rates to their lowest point in 29 years—unimpeded by McCain-Feingold. More people are involved in donating to candidates and causes than before the legislation, and there’s been an increase in the broadcast of campaign ads and distribution of political materials, not a reduction. Does any American – particularly those in key primary states – honestly believe we now have a shortage of political ads on TV? Those who say that McCain-Feingold took away free speech make no more sense than leftists who claim that the Patriot Act destroyed civil liberties or crushed dissent: their arguments remain utterly disconnected from the real world experience of every American. Hard-hitting, free wheeling debate is alive and well in the land of the free. McCain favored counterweights to lobbyist influence and the corrupting impact of money in politics because he saw that commercial involvement as a powerful force toward corporate welfare and government expansion—betraying the small government ideals he has always embraced.
Furthermore, for someone who is supposedly responsible for a vast assault on our free speech, six months ago, McCain introduced the "Broadcaster Freedom Act", as a valiant effort to protect talk radio- the medium that has been mercilessly unrelenting in their witch-hunt-styled hysteria to disown him as a true consevative- from Democratic Party attempts to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

Medved again defends the Arizona Senator:
Please check out this brief, but hugely important piece by Mike Sunnocks for the Phoenix Business Journal from June 29, 2007:
McCAIN INTRODUCES TALK RADIO LEGISLATION

Arizona Sen. John McCain has introduced federal legislation to protect talk radio shows from the reinstatement of past rules that required dissenting voices be given equal time on their shows.

McCain and fellow GOP Senators John Thune of South Dakot and Norm Coleman of Minnesota have put forward legislation preventing the reinstatement of the ‘Fairness Doctrine.’

The Fairness Doctrine was done away with in 1987 but previously required political radio shows to offer equal time to opposing viewpoints as part of their Federal Communications Commission licenses.

A number of Democrats and liberal advocates want the Fairness Doctrine put back in place. They do not like the fact talk radio is dominated by conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham.

McCain said imposing such rules would stifle free speech and there are plenty of political viewpoints in the marketplace.

Conservative radio talkers have criticized McCain for his stance in favor of immigration reform.
Reasonable people will agree, I think, that this last line is an almost comical understatement. Conservative talkers didn’t just “criticize” McCain on immigration – they ripped him, reamed him, smeared him every hour of every day, particularly in the middle of last summer (with immigration hysteria at its height).

In other words, at the very moment that talk show hosts concentrated their angry fire on McCain himself (more than any Democrat), the Arizona Senator introduced legislation to defend them from big-government/liberal interference. (A similar bill to block the Fairness Doctrine was introduced in the House by Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana—himself a former radio host—and passed easily).

I became aware of McCain’s role in this issue as part of my efforts to defend the Senator from the ridiculous charges that he has no respect for free speech or the Constitution. It occurred to me that he could counter such current attacks by standing up strongly against the Fairness Doctrine. I planned to communicate with the Senator to convey my bright idea, but after researching the issue I discovered he was way ahead of me: he’d already introduced his Free Speech Protection legislation some six months ago.

There are two important points that need to be made about this issue:

1. THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE WOULD BE A DEVASTATING ASSAULT ON FREE SPEECH; McCAIN-FEINGOLD, FOR ALL ITS FAULTS, WAS NOT. Everyone in talk radio knows that imposition of the Fairness Doctrine would destroy our industry overnight. You can’t operate a radio station if you have to “balance” a successful show with another show of the opposite point of view that may or may not be successful. The whole idea makes as much sense as requiring country music stations to “balance” Toby Keith with Mozart and Kanye West. It’s no accident that the whole conservative talk industry, led by El Rushbo, only emerged after the Fairness Doctrine disappeared (under Reagan). McCain-Feingold, on the other hand, has hardly destroyed or stifled free-wheeling political expression in the United States. The six years since the bill’s passage have have produced a shortage of political advertising, or imposed formidable difficulties in spending money to debate issues. The impact of the bill has been so insignificant that none of its critics actually advocate its repeal. It matters far more, in other words, that McCain continues to battle the Fairness Doctrine (that would seriously damage political debate in the media) than that he cosponsored a silly and ineffective piece of legislation (that left vigorous debate vigorously intact).

2. THOSE RADIO HOSTS WHO CLAIM THAT McCAIN AND HIS DEMOCRATIC RIVALS ARE “INTERCHANGABLE” SHOULD NOT IGNORE THIS CRUCIAL ISSUE. Leading Democrats (including John Kerry and Senate Whip Dick Durbin) have publicly supported the idea that a new Democratic president should seriously consider “reigning in” talk radio and gagging leading talkers with the Fairness Doctrine. Senator Clinton and Senator Obama have said nothing to contradict them – indicating that they are, at the very least, open to the idea. Top talk show hosts have warned repeatedly that Hillary Clinton as president would attempt to wreck our industry. Why no corresponding acknowledgment that McCain has placed himself firmly, courageously on the other side—our side? If our industry counts (and it surely does), then it also matters that Mac means to defend talk radio, while prominent liberals pledge to destroy it. Contrary to all those who insist that McCain, Clinton and Obama are virtually identical in their “liberalism,” this issue (along with at lest two-dozen others) shows a world of difference between Mac’s conservative values and record, and the fatuous “progressive” leanings of the leading Democrats.

It’s important to me as a talk show host and as an American that John McCain has already stood up to defend conservative talk radio even while its most prominent practitioners used their microphones to defame the man every day. A lesser politician might easily succumb to the temptation to deploy government power – or even the threat of government power – to silence the chorus of hysterically strident voices raised against him. McCain’s refusal to do so says something powerful about his character.

And the fact that leading talkers have never acknowledged the Senator’s integrity and leadership on this issue also reveals something significant about the character of his critics.
I heard Medved mention "MDS" today, on his radio program. I've been using "McDS" for some time now- McCain Derangement Syndrome, because that's what I see some of the hyperbolic, hperventilating criticism to be, regarding McCain.

Oh, yes. I've been angry and frustrated with McCain, over the years. McCain is responsible for much of the anger and feelings of betrayal from conservatives, and rightly so. But the level of discourse has reached toxicity levels. And that, in itself, is bad for conservatives and the Republican Party. Frankly, it makes us look like the emotional rage-aholics on the Left.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Gayle said...

Thank you for this post, Wordsmith. It looks like there is a very good possibility that McCain will get the nomination. If so, I won't have such a hard time voting for him as I would have before I read this, so thanks again!

Saturday, February 02, 2008 8:54:00 AM  
Blogger Donald Douglas said...

Awesome post, Wordsmith.

You have a profound voice of clarity amid all the clamor.

Thanks for this!

Saturday, February 02, 2008 9:50:00 AM  
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Saturday, February 02, 2008 3:04:00 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

I don't think you can classify the the feelings that conservatives have toward McCain as derangement syndrome Word. It's more like, sick of the same old bullshit from inside the beltway syndrome. Every time a piece of important legislation comes up about immigration, political speech or other such things we will have to ringing the phones off the walls of the congressional switchboard to stop McCain's agenda. He is an ultimate insider, he won't listen to anyone else's opinion other that what suits him best and we're damn sick and tired of it.

As far as McCain-Feingold is concerned, I completely disagree with Medved's take on it. The Constitution in the very first amendment says " the congress shall pass no laws...;or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press...

Now what part of free speech doesn't McCain-Feingold abridge. It doesn't matter what group or organization is hurt or helped. McCain Feingold is direct abridgment of free speech, what's not to understand about that I ask? McCain-Feingold was aimed at the very principles of free speech that the first amendment was designed to protect Congress from limiting, that is political speech.

I have posted over at my blog Word, something I have been holding back on for some time now. I think it is an important issue. I watched as it happened and had close friends involved in it at the time and now one is dead never to see justice. Did you see me write often about McCain's disposition? There is reason why I have that opinion. Read about it, I saw the direct results when citizens, friends and fellow veterans clashed with the intolerant and abusive John McCain.

Saturday, February 02, 2008 9:26:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I don't think you can classify the the feelings that conservatives have toward McCain as derangement syndrome Word. It's more like, sick of the same old bullshit from inside the beltway syndrome.


It goes beyond that, jennifer. You haven't noticed it? McCain has brought a lot of this upon himself, and worked hard to earn the conservative hate and sense of betrayal. Still, there is a strong effort to discredit his conservative credentials that go into the realm of overexaggeration and stretching reality to fit an agenda.

A recent case-in-point: John Fund.

I listened to him interviewed by anti-McCain/pro-Romney guy, Hugh Hewitt, and this is basically what John Fund said (from a comment reply on an earlier post of mine):

Hugh Hewitt interviewed John Fund, today, btw. Fund stressed that his piece not be misconstrued and conflated, [into the belief] that McCain WON’T nominate a Samuel Alito justice, but that he said he MIGHT not nominate one [due to impression of Alito wearing his religion on his sleeve- after all, what difference is an activist judge, be it from the right or the left?]. Fund also pointed out, to be fair to McCain, that McCain has been stellar in always supporting every conservative nominee who’s come up, like Robert Bork (who doesn’t support McCain), Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and yes, Samuel Alito. Fund stressed the distinction between who McCain might nominate, as opposed to who he will support, as someone else’s appointment pick. And Fund was right in making his point, as you exemplified how he writes one thing, and the McCDS sufferers hear this:

He won’t nominate a Sam Alito.

MIGHT not, is the operative word, here. Thanks for helping me put forth my case on how those suffering from McCain Derangement Syndrome are resorting to spin and hyperbole to get across their case. There shouldn’t be a need to do so. The case against McCain is a strong one, without resorting to a witch-hunt’s dishonesty.


This is just one example of distortion from conservatives, who have an agenda to fill. Hatred of theirs, to be given validation, by seeing and hearing what they choose to see and hear.


he won't listen to anyone else's opinion other that what suits him best and we're damn sick and tired of it.

I agree. His "maverickness" is a problem. He seems to enjoy the limelight and reputation he's built, of not sticking to party, but to his own sense of "principles". He basks in the media glow and praise of "being his own man." But that also works both ways, as we can see from how strongly he championed the surge plan, when it was unpopular and political suicide to do so.

At least McCain is a straight shooter. What we see is what we get, and he makes no bones about where he stands. Mike's America likes to remind us in every anti-McCain post how McCain told him if Mike doesn't like his decision on "the Gang of 14", then Mike and his blogging friends don't have to vote for him; that he is not their man.

That kind of hard-headedness is frustrating when it works against you; but when he's an ally on an issue, no better man to have in your corner, than John McCain.

Trent Lott, who has a lifetime voting record of something like 91%, essentially said all this, even as he fought McCain for 4 years to stop McCain-Feingold-Thompson.


As far as McCain-Feingold is concerned, I completely disagree with Medved's take on it.

Completely? Medved himself has criticized the legislation over the years, and even in the piece I cited of his, he says it's a worthless piece of legislation.

The Constitution in the very first amendment says " the congress shall pass no laws...;or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press...

Now what part of free speech doesn't McCain-Feingold abridge. It doesn't matter what group or organization is hurt or helped. McCain Feingold is direct abridgment of free speech, what's not to understand about that I ask? McCain-Feingold was aimed at the very principles of free speech that the first amendment was designed to protect Congress from limiting, that is political speech.


And Medved, and myself, agrees with all of that. But Medved's point is (read it again!), that in practice, the legislation hasn't done a heck of a lot to stifle free speech. That there is no effort from anyone to repeal it. Why do you suppose that is?

Byron York reported from the National Review that McCain was asked if he would appoint a conservative judge like Alito or Scalia even though they might over-rule McCain-Feingold. McCain looked them right in the eye and said "Yes!", because strict constructionists are more important to him. He's supported every single conservative judge who has ever come up for nomination, including lower court judges. Including Alito, despite how McDS sufferers want to spin the "gotcha" misread quote.

A strict constructionist judge believes that you should not expand the Constitution to invalidate legislation. A very strict constructionist like Justice Frankfurter who originated the whole concept, would probably rule to uphold McCain-Feingold, because that's what the legislature wanted. It was passed 7 years ago, upheld by the Supreme Court 4 years ago, no one is moving to repeal it; it's a dead issue.


Did you see me write often about McCain's disposition? There is reason why I have that opinion. Read about it, I saw the direct results when citizens, friends and fellow veterans clashed with the intolerant and abusive John McCain.

I think McCain does have personality issues. We've seen his ugly side in his attacks on Romney. The man has a temper or personality management problem, which is just one of a number of reasons why I found it difficult to support him in the primary.


What I don't get is how conservatives resort to dishonesty to get their criticism across, when honesty in criticizing McCain should be enough.

Sunday, February 03, 2008 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

I agree that we shouldn't exaggerate McCain's weaknesses but he has so many that I don't know why there would be a need.

Sunday, February 03, 2008 5:24:00 PM  
Blogger Indigo Red said...

My gut has always told me I can't trust him. I simply do not believe McCain.

Being a POW just is not enough for me to call him a war hero and give him extra deference because of his misfortune. For me, he has over played this one event on his record, just as Giuliani over played his contribution to 9/11. I've said many times that Rudy's best day was America's worst day.

Beyond being shot down and taken prisoner; beyond being the Mayor of a city attacked, I don't see anything extraordinary or anything slightly beyond average to recommend either man for the highest office in the land.

But that's what the democratic process is for - finding the most average, mediocre, white bread, bland, least objectionable, lesser-of-evils candidate acceptable to the greatest number of nose holding voters.

The remaining alternative has many objectionable problems, too. At least Romney isn't playing up his failures as great acts of bravery and heroism.

And that's just the Republican side. Don't even get me started on Clinton (who has returned to Rodham-Clinton this weekend) and Obama.

Sunday, February 03, 2008 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Being a POW just is not enough for me to call him a war hero and give him extra deference because of his misfortune. For me, he has over played this one event on his record, just as Giuliani over played his contribution to 9/11. I've said many times that Rudy's best day was America's worst day.

I agree that Giuliani overplayed his role in 9/11. As for McCain, perhaps so; I don't often hear him talk about it, though. Has he been bringing it up during this campaign season?

One thing I am sure of: He has a stake in Iraq; in his decision to be so stubbornly supportive of our efforts over there. The thing he doesn't talk about, is his son. His son is currently over there, now, from what I hear.

Beyond being shot down and taken prisoner; beyond being the Mayor of a city attacked, I don't see anything extraordinary or anything slightly beyond average to recommend either man for the highest office in the land.

I think the media talks more about the POW status than he does. As for Giuliani, he's directed people to look at his years in public office, as mayor and in serving in Reagan's Administration, handling crisis there, when the President was shot.

At least Romney isn't playing up his failures as great acts of bravery and heroism.

That's because Romney has no such status under his belt.

Did you hear his response when asked the bogus chickenhawk question on why his sons have never served in the military? It was disappointing. There is something seriously flawed about Romney, even as he is flawless and perfect in so many ways on the surface. He, like McCain, can't help but be who he is, and his inner character sometimes comes out from behind the spit and polish facade.

I'm not saying he'll make a bad president, or that he is even "a bad person". I don't think he is. But there's just something about him that doesn't sit well with me.

I don't have to like him, though, to vote for him. So long as he is the best one to carry out the duties of the presidency. I do find that Romney is the smartest of the bunch.

Sunday, February 03, 2008 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

...the legislation hasn't done a heck of a lot to stifle free speech. That there is no effort from anyone to repeal it. Why do you suppose that is?

A: Because someone has to take up the cause and start a fight with John McCain to repeal his free speech limiting legislation. It would be the right thing to do but having so many gutless wonders in both parties no one is going to take up that cause. That's why lousy legislation like this has to be stopped before it's ever passed. Are we going to have to take up to the phones everytime McCain comes up with something to prevent it from being passed, you bet we will, every fricken time.

Anyway, my whole point is say that no matter what position John McCain takes you can count on him to be unreasonable, unpredictable and downright nasty to anyone that opposes him. As I have pointed out over at my blog Word, this didn't just happen in the last few weeks. Veterans groups were gearing up for the fight back in 2000 when he was roundly defeated in South Carolina. There were brave veterans who aren't afraid of John McCain who stood up and pointed out to other veterans how McCain treated Vietnam veterans and family members before the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIA's in 1992. It is now for me as it has been since 1992 when I was made completely aware of the disposition of Senator John McCain, this man is entirely unsuitable to be President of the United States.

Sunday, February 03, 2008 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I agree with all of that, jennifer.

I don't agree with the claims, "he's not a true conservative". He is a conservative. Just not one that a lot of people like or can trust. Even if he only votes conservative 65% of the time (I believe that's his ACU ranking in 2006), it's still 60% more often than Obama or Hillary.

Primary, no. If it comes to it, in the general, yes.

Monday, February 04, 2008 1:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Medved has really gone far to the left on this issue. When something like this happens you look for a reason. Perhaps he plans to get a job in a McCain administration.

I hate to bring this up but when you look to possible motivations I have found this. Medved’s father lives in Israel. John McCain gets strong support from AIPAC.

Check this picture.

http://www.aipac.org/about_AIPAC/index_1906.asp

Now I in general am supportive of Israel. But Israel isn’t America. Israel is a foreign country. And we should never, ever put any foreign country’s interest above our own, and I fear by having tied ourselves so closely to Israel we have. Now again this isn’t an attack on Israel. We should never tie ourselves to ANY country as closely as we have tied ourselves to Israel.

Now I hate to think it, but could Medved’s support of McCain come from the close relationship AIPAC has with John McCain? I believe it’s something we should at least think about.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008 1:58:00 PM  

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