Friday, February 22, 2008

It's not nice to mess with constitutional rights

For instance, the right to free speech. Wouldn't you agree now, all these decades later and legislation with your name on it, Mr. McCain?

Yesterday, FEC Chairman David Mason said he still has questions about Mr. McCain's loan terms -- questions that need to be answered before the candidate will be allowed to drop out of the primary financing system and its restrictions. Adds Capital University Law Professor and Former FEC Chairman Brad Smith: "There is certainly an argument that what they did amounts to a pledge of the funds" as collateral. Either way, it appears that Mr. McCain has been employing lawyers to game the campaign finance rules he hails as a defense against "corruption."

Having decided not to accept public financing during the primary, the possibility of going up against Barack Obama in the general election is a different story. Mr. McCain insists he intends to take public financing, saying: "I made the commitment to the American people." And, by the way, he expects Mr. Obama to honor his earlier pledge to do the same. But, naturally, Mr. Obama is having second thoughts now that he's rolling in dough. (See "Obama's Cash Games")

Public funding was hatched in the 1970s and has now become one of those blind touchstones of "progressive" thinking. No matter how regularly its proponents are mugged by reality, they never give up. Running for President is a serious business, with millions of people devoting time and money to promoting the candidate of their choice. We suppose we can't blame Mr. McCain for trying to make the finance rules work for him, but it'd be nice if he finally admitted their embarrassing folly.

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