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McCain's support costs too

By Nicholas Sanchez
web posted July 9, 2001

John McCain is a maverick, we are told. John McCain is fighting to "change the system", the media assures us. John McCain a relentless soldier in the fight to clean up the political system, the public is pounded over the head ad nauseum. Is it any wonder, then, that this guy's poll ratings are higher than Santa Claus's?

In a concerted effort to pass McCain's so-called "campaign finance reform" bill, the national media has touted John McCain as a national savior. Someone who isn't afraid to stand up to the ever insidious "special interests" groups and give them one for. Why, then, if McCain is trying to clean up the current political system, is he then applying shameful pressure upon GOP House Members to support his measure and using tactics that one would hope that true "campaign finance reform" would eschew?

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., right, laughs as McCain, second from left, answers a reporters during a Capitol Hill news conference on June 28 to discuss the Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance Reform Bill. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., left, and Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., second from right look on
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., right, laughs as McCain, second from left, answers a reporters during a Capitol Hill news conference on June 28 to discuss the Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance Reform Bill. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., left, and Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., second from right look on

Yes, the very same McCain who is laboring day and night to change the way politicians in Washington, DC do business is the very same person who is applying harsh weight upon the Republican candidates whom he supported in the 2000 election cycle. Or more accurately, he is calling in political "chits"; which is to say, since he supported these candidates for the House of Representatives, McCain feels that they are obliged to support his measure.

In a letter that was sent to 24 House Republicans, McCain more or less demands that they support the Shays-Meehan bill (which is the House version of the McCain-Feingold bill) as payment for his past support. In his letter, McCain says "[W]e expect ... people who committed to support campaign finance reform either publicly or privately, or people who gave a very strong impression in their districts to support meaningful reform, ... to stand by what they said." [Emphasis added.]

Some of these candidates that he supported see it differently. One of them, in fact, has made it known publicly that he does not appreciate the strong arm tactics of Mr. McCain and his aides.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) claims that he made it very clear to Sen. McCain that he did not support the McCain-Feingold bill as it was written. Moreover, he says, "I would have never signed a litmus test" for McCain's support during his Congressional campaign.

As only he can, John McCain also managed to ruffle the feathers of the unflappable House Speaker, Dennis Hastert. Known as a quiet, mild-mannered mid-westerner, McCain managed to draw a public rebuke from Speaker Hastert for his bullying of House Members over an issue that the Republican Party has overwhelmingly rejected.

McCain's desperation may stem from the fact that an ever-increasing number of Democrats are pulling back their support of his bill...especially in the Black Caucus. Many political observers are speculating that McCain is tying his presidential hopes in 2004 to the ultimate passage of "campaign finance reform".

Whatever the case may be, it is blatantly apparent by his actions that no matter what the ultimate success or failure of this bill is, Senator John McCain will employ whatever means necessary to get his agenda through. Whether it is Constitutional or not; whether it is good for the country or not; whether it is ethical or not.

Nicholas Sanchez is the Free Congress Foundation's Director of Development.

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • What is up with McCain? by W. James Antle III (June 11, 2001)
    W. James Antle III wonders where John McCain's political future is leading. Regardless of what happens, Republicans shouldn't be too worried
  • Will McCain-Feingold backfire on liberals? by Richard A. Viguerie and Steve J. Allen (April 9, 2001)
    Democrats are counting on campaign finance reform to put a stake in Republican fundraising. Richard A. Viguerie and Steve J. Allen say it might actually do the exact opposite
  • McCain-Feingold First Amendment reform by W. James Antle III (April 9, 2001)
    John McCain is right, there is something broken with the current system, but W. James Antle III says his campaign finance reform efforts aren't the solution
  • Does McCain have a plan? by Paul M. Weyrich (March 5, 2001)
    Remember, the stake goes into the heart. Paul Weyrich wonders what Sen. John McCain is trying to do...besides prepare himself for 2004
  • McCain pushing for "disclosure" of contributions by Paul M. Weyrich (July 10, 2000)
    Disclosure is generally a fine idea, writes Paul M. Weyrich, but not always. John McCain's fight for more disclosure will end up harming the system, not mend it




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