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Shush

CNN:

President Bush wants to work with Sen. John McCain to take legal action against “shadowy” outside groups that have been spending millions of dollars on ads criticizing the president and Democratic rival Sen. John Kerry, the White House said Thursday.

Pesky free speech. What are you gonna do?

The thing is, Bush doesn’t get credit for the moral argument against 527s. It is possible to argue that 527s are bad because they tilt the political playing field towards the people with the most money, which of course they do. However, Bush has demonstrated that he doesn’t care about that principle, insofar as he opted out of the public financing system in the primaries. If he cared about an even playing field, he wouldn’t have done that. The same applies to the schedule of the RNC; it’s unusually late so that Bush has more time to spend the money he’s already collected before public financing laws kick in.

So he can’t legitimately argue that he’s doing this to create an even playing field. The only explanation left is that he doesn’t want people to be able to speak out against politicians. Or, I suppose, that he only minds a tilted playing field when it’s tilted against him.

4 Comments

  1. From my perspective, no politician “legitimately” wants a level playing field. Look at the financing of MoveOn, et al tilted against Bush. Does Kerry want that playing field leveled? Of course not. He’d be a morally superior looser if he did, and no use to us.

    It’s just political chess. If you accept the rules of the game, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Kerry has run himself into a dead end, at least as far as the 527s go. It’s check, but not checkmate.

  2. I agree on point one, but I’m not sure about the check. Kerry’s got room to ask why Bush is afraid of free speech; it’s a good line of attack. We’ll see where it goes and which approach catches on.

  3. You’re right, but it’s not necessarily free speech that Bush (or Kerry for that matter) is afraid of, it’s being put to a disadvantage. I think that it’s important not to confuse tactics with principals. And by the way, good blog.

  4. Oh, sure. I think that Bush’s fear of being put at a disadvantage caused him to effectively come out against free speech, to be very precise. And I’m sure Kerry would do similar in the same situation.

    I am currently loudly anti-Bush because I think he’s worse than Kerry, but if Kerry wins I’m going to take a sharp tack towards Kerry criticism.

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