May 30, 2006

Hypocrisy, thy name is McCain

I crossed John McCain off my viable candidate for President list because of his insistence on campaign finance reform, which I regard as wrongheaded at best, un-American at worst. (And W.'s decision to sign it because the Supreme Court would overturn it anyway ranks right up there as one of the stupidest moves of his administration.)

Now, George Will points out that McCain will likely not participate in the public funding system for presidential primaries.
There are two compounded ironies. First, the mantra of campaign "reformers" is that there is "too much" money in politics. But McCain will shun public funding because it provides too little money. He can raise much more from private interests. (But not from "special interests" -- interests McCain disapproves of.) Second, the reformers revere the McCain-Feingold legislation that expanded government regulation of the quantity, timing and content of political speech. But McCain-Feingold is one important reason the public funding system is collapsing.

That legislation banned large contributions of "soft money" -- money that can be used for party-building and other activities but not for specific candidates' campaigns. It also doubled, from $1,000 to $2,000, and indexed for inflation, the size of contributions of "hard dollars" that candidates can receive. This doubling made it even easier than it already was to raise more money than the public funding system could provide to presidential candidates, even if the public were fully funding the system. Which the public emphatically refuses to do.

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