Friday, February 20, 2004
If the Democratic candidates aren't taking shots at each other, somebody has to fill the void:
"Frankly, sharing a media market with Chuck Schumer is like sharing a banana with a monkey. Take a little bite of it, and he will throw his own feces at you." --Sen. Schumer's colleague, Sen. John Corzine (D-N.J.), joking at the Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner.
Psst! Isn't the celebrated, goo-goo "Stand by Your Ad" provision of the McCain-Feingold law, the one that's had such an impact discouraging negative spots in the current campaign, transparently ... you know ... unconstitutional? The provision requires candidates to appear personally and say they approve any TV ad. Since when can the government dictate what candidates must say when? It's not as if the government is declaring that you can't get public financing unless you say this. It's not declaring you can't get discounted TV time unless you say this. It's not giving candidates anything in exchange. It's just decreeing that they have to say it--even in a perfectly legal ad bought for full price with small donations ("hard money") from idealistic individual supporters. Could the government get away with a rule like this for printed speech--say, requiring that the Federalist Papers feature a color photograph of "Publius"? I certainly hope not. (We'd finally find out who "Atrios" is, but it wouldn't be worth it.)
Prof. Hasen agrees that the new rule is "compelled speech" that violates the First Amendment, but notes that Justice Rehnquist seems to have upheld the provision with a few conclusory words in the recent McConnell case. I tend to think Rehquist's pathetic paragraph leaves the particulars of the provision--as opposed to the general idea of making campaigns disclose and ad's source--open to challenge. After all, how does requiring that the candidate himself or herself appear--as opposed to just requiring that funding be disclosed by someone, somehow--shed the "'light of publicity" on campaign financing"? ...
Forget whether or not "money equals speech"--this seems like the Court's outrageous anti-freedom holding. There's no question, after all, that what's being abridged here is speech--the right to say what you want about politics. ... P.S.: As Hasen notes, the provision was explicitly designed to protect politicians from negative ads. And it's helped turn the Democratic primary race into an uninformative blandwagon in which voters know much less, at this stage, about the characters of the two leading candidates than in previous multicandidate primaries (e.g. Mondale and Hart in 1984, Dukakis and Jackson in 1988, Clinton and Tsongas in 1992). ... 2:43 P.M.
"Anywhere, anytime": Edwards has now taken Ellisblog's advice and made a formal proposal for a series of debates. The trick: They aren't one-on-one debates. Edwards seems to be calling Kerry's bluff--Kerry's campaign having said he'd be happy to debate "anywhere, anytime" as long as Kucinich and Sharpton are included. Not unclever of Edwards, no? ... 12:34 P.M.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Kerry gets a Mulligan from CBS, whose producer gives him a second chance to nail a too-long sound bite. Does Bush get do-overs? It's bias I tell you! ... Actually, of course, it's the institutional needs of CBS--they have to have something to go on the news. The old strategy for a candidate was to say only one usable thing every day, and then the nets would have to go with that. Kerry may be pioneering a new strategy of giving the networks nothingusable, thus reducing them to utter desperation, after which they will probably give him free expert wording tips and accept a soundbite of twice they length they had originally planned. ... [Thanks to alert reader t.] 11:29 P.M.
Beating up on ... Edwards?Hey! Ellis says Edwards has asked for two too few debates. In fact, Edwards seems to have asked for debates in every locale he's visited-- not just Georgia, but also New York. What he hasn't done is frame the challenge as a formal debate proposal Kerry would look bad refusing (as opposed to ad hoc pandering that Kerry can more easily ignore). Charitable explanation: Edwards was waiting to see whether the L.A. Times and CNN would hand him his one-on-one debate on a silver platter by excluding Sharpton and Kucinich. ... P.S.: Walter Olson finds holes in Edwards' Democratic cloth coat. ... 10:54 P.M.