Wednesday, February 27, 2008

McCain's Desire to Regulate Speech again Raises Its Head

John McCain acted correctly to distance himself from the remarks made by Cincinnati radio shock jock Bill Cunningham when introducing the Republican candidate for President at a campaign rally. Mr. Cunningham has been performing his shtick (which The Oracle has sometimes found hilarious) for something like 30 years on 50,000 watt WLW, so it is a bit of a mystery why the McCain campaign invited him if they were concerned about a supporter pushing the envelope.

That being said, it is unfortunate that the event brought forward again Sen. McCain's ongoing interest in regulating political speech. Speaking to reporters on his campaign bus following the event, he is reported to have said:

“We’re aware of many of the things that 527s have done … where unlimited amounts of money can pour into negative campaigns such as we saw against John Kerry and his combat record, as we saw against (former Georgia Sen.) Max Cleland … they’re really very not accountable to anyone. At least I have to say ‘I’m John McCain and I approve this message.’”

Conservative Republicans will find it unconscionable that the Senator found fit to attack the efforts of 527 groups favorable to Republicans, but failed to mention the largest of all of these organizations, MoveOn.org, which was, among other things, responsible for the New York Times ad attacking the loyalty to the United States of General David Petraus, whom they labelled a betrayer.

Leaving that aside, Sen. McCain has again shown his antipathy toward speech that he deems not "accountable" -- meaning not regulated. He prefers regulated speech. Of course, regulating speech can make things less messy. But it is not free.

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