Tuesday, June 26, 2007

THE OPINIONATOR


June 25, 2007, 4:34 pm
A Weakened McCain-Feingold
By Tobin Harshaw
Tags: , , ,

The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act today, loosening “the restrictions on what companies and unions can spend on television advertisements just before elections.” The Republican co-sponsor of the act, John McCain, wasn’t pleased, saying, “It is regrettable that a split Supreme Court has carved out a narrow exception by which some corporate and labor expenditures can be used to target a federal candidate in the days and weeks before an election.”

Others on the right, unsurprisingly, are more upbeat. John Tabin at The American Spectator feels the ruling is a microcosm of McCain’s difficulties: “The Court’s shift to the right sometimes seems like the only thing in the Bush era that conservatives are actually happy about. Discontent with that rightward shift is a losing position in a Republican primary.”

“This is a victory for free speech, but the court didn’t go far enough in my opinion,” insists Macranger at the conservative blog Macsmind “The entire act should be repealed as it is an afront to the First Amendment — thus unconstitutional. Still, this is a small victory for sure.”
Who’s the big winner? NBC’s Mark Murray feels it’s Mitt Romney, whose first comment was “Score one for free speech.”

Murray notes that “this isn’t the first time — and it won’t be the last — Romney has tried to whack G.O.P. rival McCain over his authorship of McCain-Feingold. ‘My fear is that McCain-Kennedy would do to immigration what McCain-Feingold has done to campaign finance and money in politics, and that’s bad,’ Romney said at the second G.O.P. debate.”

James Joyner at Outside the Beltway seems to have a tad of sympathy for the Arizona senator:


McCain has long been distrusted by the base but he at least had the support of independents, who thought of him as a “maverick” and a “straight talker.” Unfortunately for him, he is bucking the tide by backing the president on the two least popular issues, the war and illegal immigration. I just don’t see how he turns around the numbers given that. The irony is that many of the people who hate McCain because he’s “not conservative enough” and who are angry at him for McCain-Feingold are enthusiastically rallying behind Fred Thompson, who voted for that bill and is less conservative than McCain on most key issues.

Then again, if Thompson really wants to be president, he’s going to have to, you know, enter the race at some point. Does it seem likely his voting record might come under a bit more scrutiny then?

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June 25, 2007, 9:53 am
In Search of the Health Care Candidate
By Tobin Harshaw
Tags:

The coastal elites may all be talking about Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” but what do average folks think of America’s health care system? Joseph Paduda at Managed Care Matters has the scoop on the latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll, where health care is the top domestic concern, but ranks a distant second to the war on Iraq. “Among health care ’sub-topics,’ ” Paduda notes, “voters most wanted to hear candidates talk about covering the uninsured (36 percent) followed by health care costs (21 percent). Alas, quality barely registered, with only 2 percent of respondents naming quality as one of their top two interests.”

And according to the poll, there doesn’t appear to be a health care savior among the 2008 presidential crowd. “The poll also asked respondents which candidate’s views on health care best reflected their’s; 59 percent of respondents could not name one,” Paduda writes. “Democrats preferred Clinton while Republicans liked Giuliani — BUT no candidate from either party has much traction, and the Mayor led with a mere 9 percent.”

For his part, Barack Obama seems to be seeking healing of a spiritual kind, telling an audience that faith got “hijacked” by the religious right. But Ann Althouse isn’t buying it:


It’s entirely distracting to use the word ‘hijack,’ especially if the problem you’re talking about has nothing to do with what we saw on September 11th but is simply the way some Christians take the conservative side on various issues and, failing to content themselves with mere belief, participate in politics. According to Obama, Christianity should move a person to political action — Obama himself was speaking to a church congregation — but only on the progressive side. Yet he said that in traveling around the country he had sensed an “awakening” of an interfaith movement of “progressives.” … Obama’s famous rhetoric looks entirely self-contradictory. If he’s trying to stimulate liberal Christians to political action, he too is using faith to “drive us apart.”

It may not have any cute kitties or dancing dorks, but a video recently posted on YouTube is creating quite a fuss in the blogosphere. According to Walter Olson at Overlawyered, the clip shows “attorneys for Cohen & Grigsby, one of the largest law firms in Pittsburgh, explaining at a conference on immigration how to obey laws that require Americans be given top priority for jobs while still ensuring foreigners are hired.”

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June 22, 2007, 4:57 pm
Cheney Rules
By Chris Suellentrop
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Defund the veep! Now that Dick Cheney has declared the vice president’s office to be a fourth branch of government, he has acknowledged that the executive isn’t unitary after all, says U.C.L.A. law professor Jonathan Zasloff at the academic group blog The Reality-Based Community. Zasloff wants the Democratic Congress to include this line in next year’s budget: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to fund or support in any way the Office of the Vice President of the United States.”

“It is by now obvious, if any further proof were necessary, that Cheney and Addington have never been particularly interested in defending constitutional principles,” writes Yale law professor Jack Balkin at the legal group blog Balkinization. “They do not seek to preserve executive power. They seek to preserve their own power. They discarded the canard of the unitary executive as soon as it became inconvenient.”

Why hasn’t a Christian conservative presidential candidate gained the support of Iowa’s socially conservative Republican caucus-goers (who, for example, voted Pat Robertson second in 1988)? Ross Douthat thinks one man has a chance to break though: Smike Brownbuckabee.

Her campaign will go on: Peggy Noonan thinks Hillary Clinton’s selection of Celine Dion’s “You and I” for her campaign song demonstrates Clinton’s devious political genius. “Why would Hillary pick a song distinguished only by its schmaltzy averageness?” Noonan writes in The Wall Street Journal. “Because she thinks it’s the kind of music a likable, feminine middle class woman would like? Because her consultants researched the exact number and nature of fans who go to Celine Dion’s show in Vegas each years, and determined they are the exact middle of America? Because it focus-grouped well? All of the above?”

Harvard economist Greg Mankiw, who is an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, thinks the fact that Romney disagrees with him on immigration policy should be considered a point in Romney’s favor. “No sensible voter would think less of a candidate who has advisers who sometimes disagree with him,” Mankiw writes on his personal blog. “But a sensible voter should think less of a candidate who has no advisers who ever disagree with him.”

The Opinionator provides a guide to the wide world of newspaper, magazine and Web opinion. The authors, Tobin Harshaw and Chris Suellentrop, are staff editors for The New York Times Op-Ed page.

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