Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thompson Torn to Pieces

Here, (printed in the Washington Post and linked on RealClear) George Will absolutely annihilates Fred Thompson. It is well known that Will is a Giuliani supporter and it is obvious in the article. He makes several points that bolster the anti-Thompson arguments. Will paints the picture of a cosmopolitan DC insider who is now trying to reclaim the pickup truck and flannel shirt. Although I personally don't care about a politicians personal life, it would be nice if they were at least slightly genuine.

More importantly he absolutely eviscerates Thompson on campaign finance reform. You can read it below, but the real impact is it feeds into the attack line that Thompson will hear until January (December?): he is lazy. I have no idea if he is lazy or not, but if he can't get his story straight on campaign finance then is he presidential material? The average voter may not care about losing basic individual freedoms in the name of "fairness" but the voters do care about a candidates understanding of the issues.

Here is Will's thrashing of Thompson.

Consider his confusion the next day when talk radio host Laura Ingraham asked him about something he ardently supported -- the McCain-Feingold expansion of government regulation of political speech. His rambling, incoherent explanation was just clear enough to be alarming about what he believes, misremembers and does not know.

Thompson said he had advocated McCain-Feingold to prevent, among other things, corporations and labor unions from "giving large sums of money to individual politicians." But corporate and union contributions to individual candidates were outlawed in 1907 and 1947, respectively.

Ingraham asked about McCain-Feingold's ban on issue ads that mention a candidate close to an election. He blamed an unidentified "they" who "added on" that provision, which he implied was a hitherto undiscussed surprise.

But surely he knows that bills containing the ban had been introduced in previous sessions of Congress before passage in 2002.

In 1997, Thompson chaired a Senate committee investigating 1996 election spending. In its final report, issued in 1998, Thompson's committee recommended a statutory "restriction on issue advocacy" during "a set period prior to an election" when the speech includes "any use of a candidate's name or image." And in 1999, Thompson co-sponsored legislation containing what became, in 2002, the McCain-Feingold blackout periods imposed on any television or radio ad that "refers to" a candidate for federal office -- a portion of which the Supreme Court in June declared unconstitutional.

Thompson, contrary to his current memories, was deeply involved in expanding government restrictions on political speech generally and the ban on issue ads specifically. Yet he told Ingraham "I voted for all of it," meaning McCain-Feingold, but said "I don't support that" provision of it.

Oh? Why, then, did he file his own brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold McCain-Feingold, stressing Congress' especially "compelling interest" in squelching issue ads that "influence" elections?

Most lamely, Thompson takes credit for McCain-Feingold doubling the amount of "hard money" an individual can give to a candidate, which he says reduces the advantages of incumbency. But that is absurd: Most hard money flows to incumbents.

Ingraham asked why government should be telling individuals how much they can give to fund political speech by candidates they support. Thompson replied: "Why should the government ... tell a loan officer that he cannot accept money from someone trying to get a loan from him ... and then go ahead and give that person a loan? ... I mean, it's bribery in the real world."

So he believes, as zealous regulators of political speech do, that political contributions are incipient bribes -- but that bribery begins with contributions larger than $2,300.

1 comment:

BillT said...

"More importantly he absolutely eviscerates Thompson on campaign finance reform."

That is the central point in my choosing not to support Thompson. Though, there are many other good reasons to avoid voting for him as well, not the least of which are his murky and somewhat disjointed connections and policy positions on the Middle East.

If only Rudy didn't have such a woeful position on the 2nd amendment, I'd support him without reservation. We'll see how it all plays out.