- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2001

Nobles: The killers of campaign-finance reform.In a narrow vote on Thursday, the House defeated a motion to bring Shays-Meehan, the House version of the Senate’s McCain-Feingold, to the floor because they considered the rules for debate to be unfavorable.

They may have also considered the voting environment to be unfavorable. At a news conference after the bill’s stinging defeat, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay claimed, “I can tell you for sure Mr. Gephardt did not have the votes,” despite Mr. Gephardt’s reported red-faced and profane pleas earlier in the day.

In a more coherent state later in the day, Mr. Gephardt claimed the bill’s defeat was a “loss for the American people.” Another of the bill’s biggest proponents, the editorial page of the New York Times, blamed House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s “thuggish tactics.”

Yet, had McCain-Feingold been the panacea for political corruption as was proclaimed by so many pundits and editorial pages, surely it could have survived another bruising bout of parliamentary wrangling.

In the end, the defeat of campaign-finance reform wasn’t about procedure. It was about constitutional principle. Under the guise of protecting politicians from the corrupting influence of soft money, McCain-style campaign-finance reform would have crushed free speech. Yet money is not inherently corrupting politicians are inherently corruptible, and free speech is necessary to root out, and proclaim against, political corruption.

Knave: Sen. John McCain, the biggest backer of campaign-finance “reform” and a laundry list of other lousy liberal legislation.

It wouldn’t be so bad if Mr. McCain would actually talk straight about his motivations if he would simply proclaim that he is still angry at the Republican establishment for refusing to hand him the nomination for president. Instead Mr. McCain has begun using every opportunity to bite back at that establishment under the guise of protecting the American people from themselves. Earlier this week, he was at the center of a meeting in Democratic leader Dick Gephardt’s office, mapping out tactics on campaign-finance reform. Earlier this month, he joined liberal Sen. Edward Kennedy and trial lawyer Sen. John Edwards in securing the passage of the patients’ bill of rights. Earlier this year, he voted against the Republican-led tax cut.

On the last at least, Mr. McCain should know better. Every year he rails against the abuses of government spending and, in his crusade against soft money, he should have realized that one of the best ways to limit the corruption of a congressman is to limit the amount of money he can pass out to his constituents.

Last year, Mr. McCain saw his lifetime 86 percent rating from the American Conservative Union plunge to a 68. This year, it will probably fall even lower. In fact, Mr. McCain’s liberal changeover has so angered some of his conservative constituents that they have begun a movement to effect his recall from the Senate.

It is certainly time for Mr. McCain to recall his roots and to stop tilting at the windmills of lost elections and stop using the sword of establishment opinion to take swipes at his Republican associates.

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