Monday, February 4, 2008

Michael Medved on McCain and Free Speech


Oh boy. McCain Derangement Syndrome may be a bug irritating the backside of some of McCain's supporters, but it hardly is a worthwhile excuse to explain unbridled stupidity.

Micheal Medved does not disappoint (via Sparks from the Anvil). Here's an excerpt. The whole thing is in his post.

TRUTH: McCain-Feingold was a piece of useless, misguided legislation but it’s done no serious damage to the country, the constitution or the conservative pro-life cause. After nearly seven years on the books, robust and impassioned discussion of political issues and candidates is more vibrant and free-wheeling than ever. The pro-life movement (with McCain’s enthusiastic support) has made substantial progress in the last seven years, changing minds and hearts and driving abortion rates to their lowest point in 29 years—unimpeded by McCain-Feingold.

I can boil Medved's analysis down to the following theme using a crude utiltarianism: McCain-Feingold - stupid but not so bad. Broadcaster Freedom Act - Great because the Fairness Doctrine is bad. Net-net, he is a protector of free speech.

From a political point of view, the world is full of idiots who can rationalize their to whatever policy position they prefer. Perhaps I have been guilty of that from time to time.

That said, "no law" means "no law". That is how the law works. It is no less illegal for some illegal alien to cross over the Rio Grande in our country in violation of the laws of our country than it is for Congress to pass a law that clearly abridges political speech. McCain (and a whole lot of others including the idiot President who signed it) crossed that line. All the excuse making and rationalization will not change the fact that it disrespects the Constitution. If that does not bother you, then so be it. I will strongly disagree with that position but at least be honest about it.

Furthermore, Medved's shameless shilling really got awful:

It’s important to me as a talk show host and as an American that John McCain has already stood up to defend conservative talk radio even while its most prominent practitioners used their microphones to defame the man every day. A lesser politician might easily succumb to the temptation to deploy government power – or even the threat of government power – to silence the chorus of hysterically strident voices raised against him. McCain’s refusal to do so says something powerful about his character.

Defamation is a crime. You want to clear that hurdle by criticizing a politican? Good luck. (see NY Times v Sullivan). Furthermore, am I to believe that is a testament to a morally defective politician's character that, despite criticism that "defames him" that he is strong enough to turn away the urge to use the power of government against those critics? Please. First and foremost, it would be political suicide to do so and even a half-wit can figure that out. Second, such an act would certainly run into a brick wall with the First Amendment, that is, if the political process did not derail it first. Who is he kidding?

If conservative supporters of John McCain find this so-called McCain Derangement Syndrome a bit of a pain in the ass, so be it. I'm no fan of the Coulters, Malkins, Levins and Limbaughs of the world so their histrionics will not have a sympathetic ear on this end. However, I would urge a bit of caution. Putting lipstick on a pig won't turn that pig into the supermodel of your dreams or some other creation in your own image. All you have is the same nasty, smelly pig with lipstick on it.

Medved's analysis lacks substance. The merits of his arguments are weak and resemble the sort of excuse making and crude consequentialism relativists use to justify their own preferred positions on issues. Call me unconvinced.

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