Thursday, February 20, 2003

A number of libertarian weblogs are in a tizzy over Congress's discomfort with the provisions of the new McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, most pointing to this New York Times article, which says what they're in for, and has several of them whining that they didn't know what they were voting for it.

When you look at the actual restrictions cited in the article, most of them have to do with restricting how they can collect campaign funds, or associate with other groups which have rasising campaign funds as a primary purpose. (They didn't know they were voting for that. Well, I'm shocked). But amid all that, there is this genuine surprise:

It turns out that the law also includes a provision requiring that federal candidates appear full-faced for the last four seconds of their campaigns' television advertisements and personally attest that they stand behind the advertisements' content.

Several consultants said this could prove to be quite a problem politically when the time comes to begin televising the kind of hard-hitting negative advertisements that have become standard campaign fare. As a rule, those ads at present tend to reduce the role of the candidate to a small line at the bottom of a screen.

"I think it was a total surprise to people who don't read C.Q. with a yellow pen," said Bill Knapp, a Democratic media consultant, referring to Congressional Quarterly, which keeps close tabs on legislative maneuverings here.

So now, candidates for public office will be forced by the eeevil forces of state regulation, yes forced, to associate themselves with their own disreputable slurs. Poor babies.


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