Tags: McCain | 'Reform' | Spawns | Unusual | Opposition

McCain 'Reform' Spawns Unusual Opposition

Tuesday, 01 May 2001 12:00 AM

Even so, the McCain-Feingold bill, which cleared the Senate 59-41, is being given a better-than-even chance of approval by the House of Representatives in the next few weeks.

The wind filling the McCain-Feingold sails is so strong that it could very well overcome dogged opposition by the principal House Republican leaders – Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader Dick Armey and GOP Whip Tom DeLay.

McCain-Feingold opponents are hoping a late-in-the-game grass-roots surge of protests from aroused Americans of all political persuasions will save the day.

What's generating the gale force driving McCain-Feingold is the unrelenting, one-sided advocacy of the bill by the major television networks, the New York Times, the Washington Post and a panoply of left-of-center political allies of the Democratic Party.

Yet, massive and impressive as that alliance is, there are newsworthy defections in its ranks – newsworthy but largely overlooked in the reporting and commentary of the leftist media.

Frequently arrayed with the left and at crossed swords with Republicans and other conservatives is the American Civil Liberties Union. Not this time.

The ACLU is vociferously against the legislative pride and joy of Arizona's Sen. John McCain.

In a recent article on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU's national office, and Joel Gora, professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, wrote that if the McCain-Feingold bill were to become law:

"Freedom of speech would be abridged, the right to criticize elected officials would be suppressed and issue advocacy would be subjected to unprecedented restraints."

That is exactly what proponents of conservative issues have been arguing, for they see their ability to raise "soft money" to fund their television, radio, print publication, Web site and e-mail advocacies crippled or even eliminated.

What the ACLU is now saying is that advocacy groups of all shades of the political rainbow – left, right, center – are in danger of losing their First Amendment rights to free speech.

So serious is the threat that Big Labor has realized it, too, is in harm's way.

Calling McCain-Feingold "patently unconstitutional," Laurence Gold, who is the expert on campaign finance for the AFL-CIO, told columnist Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal:

"This can criminalize all kinds of politics. ... We can't sit idly by and let some of these things sail through."

This is the other side of the picture that readers, listeners and viewers of the establishment media are not getting. That blackout has worked well to portray McCain and Wisconsin's Russ Feingold as virtually undisputed champions of "reform."

The reality remains, though, that McCain has stirred up a formidable phalanx of odd bedfellows – for example, the National Rifle Association and the ACLU, the religious right and pro-abortion groups, the GOP and organized labor.

It is boiling down in the House of Representatives to a contest between First Amendment defenders, who have issues they want to advocate, and left-wing news media, which under McCain-Feingold would become the dominant explainers and arbiters of those issues.

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Even so, the McCain-Feingold bill, which cleared the Senate 59-41, is being given a better-than-even chance of approval by the House of Representatives in the next few weeks. The wind filling the McCain-Feingold sails is so strong that it could very well overcome dogged...
McCain,'Reform',Spawns,Unusual,Opposition
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2001-00-01
Tuesday, 01 May 2001 12:00 AM
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