Ron Paul

The Triumph of George Will (Free Speech Edition)

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Reader and film critic extraordinaire Alan Vanneman points to this excellent George Will col wherein the occasionally bowtie-bedecked bloviator burnishes his libertarian-leaning bona fides. The topic is McCain-Feingold and the April 5 House of Representatives vote to restrict the amount of filthy lucre that can be shoveled at 527 groups:

House Republicans, easily jettisoning what little remains of their ballast of belief in freedom and limited government, voted to severely limit the amounts that can be given to 527s….

Candice Miller (R-Mich.) said that restricting 527s would combat "nauseating ugliness, negativity and hyperpartisanship." Oh, so that is what the First Amendment means: Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech unless speech annoys politicians.

Improving the tone of politics, leveling the playing field, fulfilling the intent of McCain-Feingold—the reasons for expanding the restrictions on political advocacy multiply….The First Amendment is now permanently in play, its protections to be truncated whenever congressional majorities envision short-term partisan advantages.

Will, who slams his own paper, the Wash Post, for being pro-McCain-Feingld, notes that last time around, 527s tipped Democratic, hence the Republicans' outrage. And he praises the 18 GOP members of Congress who voted against restricting 527s and, by extension, political speech: Roscoe Bartlett (Maryland), Chris Chocola (Indiana), Jeff Flake (Arizona), Vito Fossella (New York), Trent Franks (Arizona), Scott Garrett (New Jersey), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Ernest Istook (Oklahoma), Walter Jones (North Carolina), Steve King (Iowa), Connie Mack (Florida), Cathy McMorris (Washington), Randy Neugebauer (Texas), Ron Paul (Texas), Mike Pence (Indiana), John Shadegg (Arizona) and Lynn Westmoreland (Georgia).

Whole thing here.

Reason talked with Going Dirty author David Mark a while back, discussing the positives of negative campaigning here.

Former head of the Federal Election Commission Brad Smith reported from the frontlines of "John McCain's War on Political Speech" in the December 2005 Reason here.

A decade ago (!), back when Steve Forbes (!!), Bob Dole (!!!), and Lamar! Alexander (!!!!) were jockeying for the GOP presidential nod, I took a stand for "attack ads" here.

NEXT: Attn, DC Reasonoids: Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference, May 2-5

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  1. House Republicans, easily jettisoning what little remains of their ballast of belief in freedom and limited government

    Republican belief in limited government has always been more deck bunting than ballast. What little remains there was of it, got jettisoned eight years ago.

    Yet we keep reading about it. Yahoo leftists critical of Republicans for being too anti-state, dillweed righties calling on Republicans to stop being so anti-state, blowhards (like Will) upset at pro-state Republicans, everyone seems to accept small government GOP as axiom. What keeps this myth going? What will it take for it to die? Republican support for massive new entitlement programs, interventionist foreign policy, and federalizing K-12 education? . . . oh wait
    AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGHH

  2. What keeps this myth going?

    It’s called the GOP platform.

  3. If only we’d voted for The Grizz.

  4. “Candice Miller (R-Mich.) said that restricting 527s would combat “nauseating ugliness, negativity and hyperpartisanship.”

    Since Bush and SCOTUS both rolled over on the McCain-Feingold, the politicians are no longer even bothering with the “money is not speech” fig leaf. The point is and always was to restrict content.

  5. Republican belief in limited government has always been more deck bunting than ballast. What little remains there was of it, got jettisoned eight years ago.

    Yet we keep reading about it. Yahoo leftists critical of Republicans for being too anti-state, dillweed righties calling on Republicans to stop being so anti-state, blowhards (like Will) upset at pro-state Republicans, everyone seems to accept small government GOP as axiom. What keeps this myth going?

    It’s not so much a myth as that we “grade on a curve”. Quite reasonably, we judge by comparison. Plus, we understand that politics works on the margin. If one looks around the world for the past century, it doesn’t take much opposition to the general trend to be labeled as outside it. If the general trend is to move 10 miles due north, and you wind up moving 9.5 miles north and 0.5 mi. east, you’re not judged according to where you came from, but according to the difference in where you’ve gone compared to where you might’ve been expected to go.

    What will it take for it to die?

    The Republicans and Democrats would have to reverse positions on a considerable range or policy issues for a considerable period of time.

  6. Since Bush and SCOTUS both rolled over on the McCain-Feingold, the politicians are no longer even bothering with the “money is not speech” fig leaf. The point is and always was to restrict content.

    True, but their lickspittle followers will still be saying “money is not speech” for years.

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