I don’t understand why President Bush seems to think that only the candidates’ voices should be heard in the presidential campaign: “Bush denounces ads by outside groups.” His position is wrong in just about every way I can think of and, as Henry Kissinger might say, has the additional disadvantage of being stupid. Or so it seems to me.
But then, I’m just a cog in the Republican smear machine taking my orders from…oh, never mind.
UPDATE: Our readers disagree. Dr. Scot Silverstein writes:
Bush is playing “being above the fray” to the max. He know the SwiftVets will not stop. He also knows the MoveOn’s won’t stop, either! So, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain by making this statement.
And, as far as the American public is concerned, such a statement only amplifies voyeuristic tendencies. The ads are now somewhat “forbidden.” It will only increase interest in SwiftVet activities, I believe.
And Robert Whitley writes:
I think you’re dead wrong. The President was very shrewd to call for the attack ads to stop. The obvious segue is to point out that Kerry has made no such gesture concerning the MoveOn.org ads or the Michael Moore movie….And it’s my guess that when Bush’s call for civility is discussed on the radio and tv talks shows, this discrepancy will be hammered home: Kerry has only called for an end to the attacks on Kerry.
HINDROCKET adds: I think our readers are correct in observing that President Bush is doing the politically smart thing. I just don’t think he’s doing the principled thing. Signing McCain-Feingold was smart, but not principled, in exactly the same way. If only hard-money contributions are permitted, and there is a limit on the amount of hard-money contributions, the Republicans would benefit tremendously, since we have far more medium-sized donors than the Democrats. So banning 527’s–the chief McCain-Feingold loophole that benefits Democrats–would be a political boon. The only downside is that all of this regulation, McCain-Feingold and much that precedes it, is unconstitutional. And the more restrictive campaign finance regulation gets, the worse the constitutional infringement.
Some have harshly criticized Bush for signing what was obviously an unconstitutional law. I would criticize him, but not harshly. No President in history has ever taken a principled stand on every issue. To do so would be politically impossible. Even Lincoln made compromises of principle in order to maintain the political power necessary to achieve his great and overriding objectives. As to McCain-Feingold and other unconstitutional campaign finance regulations, the main fault lies with the Congresses that enacted them, the Supreme Court that approved them, the “reformers” who pushed them, and the mainstream media outlets who sought to maintain their monopoly by campaigning for them.
The battle for free speech is one that will have to be fought someday, by a different President. President Bush has enough battles for the moment.