02 February 2008

I Disagree With Medved On McCain

Michael Medved has been a critic of the conservative critics of John McCain recently. While I can respect Medved's passion and feelings on this topic, I must strongly disagree with him on his points in defense of McCain.

Medved says this of McCain's "Reagan Republican" credentials:

McCain has been a stalwart Reagan Republican since he first entered politics in 1981.

He has never backed Democratic candidates for president or lesser posts – other than supporting his friend Joe Lieberman in his Independent campaign for US Senate in 2006. [...]

McCain is a consistent, passionate Reagan Republican who, like the greatest president of recent years, is unabashedly pro-life, pro-second amendment rights, pro-military, pro-peace through strength, pro-small government, pro-spending cuts, and pro-tax cuts.
McCain's support of fellow Republicans really seems to be hit-or-miss. He helped to torpedo Frist with the Gang of 14, he butted heads with many Republicans over immigration, and he seems to make a lot of friends on the other side of the aisle. I understand that the last point is often spun as his ability to compromise, it's just that many of us on the conservative side would like it if he would act as nicely to us as he does to our political and ideological opposition.

McCain was there in the beginning, but I don't believe that he espouses all of those principals any longer. The Gang of 14 was a move against up and down votes for judicial nominees, and a Legislative interpretation of the Constitution (see below); McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003; and McCain has broken Reagan's 11th Commandment of not speaking ill of another Republican in his lies about Romney.

McCain may have been a passionate Reagan Republican, but he seems to simply be a power-hungry maverick now.

Medved says this of the Gang of 14:

John McCain organized "The Gang of Fourteen" to win - not to block - the Confirmation of Conservative Judges, and his efforts succeeded in the Senate.
That surely won the confirmation of qualified nominees such as William Haynes and Henry Saad following the coming together of the Gang of 14, correct? Oh, that's right, they were left behind in the Gang of 14's wake. Must have been something to do with the "extraordinary circumstances" that McCain et. al. espoused.

The Gang of 14 was not a win for the nomination of conservative judges, but rather a death-knell for an up-or-down vote for judicial nominees. Sure, Roberts and Alito were confirmed. They were high-profile and very well qualified. The lower court nominees didn't fare as well, however, since they weren't widely covered in the press and can be held-up in committee or by 41 members of the Senate.

The Gang of 14 even put their interpretation of the Constitution in writing, stating, "We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word 'Advice' speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President's power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration."

I disagree whole-heartedly. The Executive nominates and the Legislature either consents to the nominee by voting for him or her, or the Legislature advises the Executive as to the problems that they see with a nominee if that nominee fails to get confirmed by vote. The Gang of 14 has effectively said that they will interpret the Constitution as they see fit, and that the Legislature will gladly take a larger role in assisting the Executive in choosing that branch's nominees.

Sorry, but I don't see that as a "win" for conservatives.

Medved says this of McCain on taxes:

John McCain has never voted for an increase in tax rates in 25 years in Congress — never – and clearly and consistently supports cutting and simplifying taxes.

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform has acknowledged that even though McCain refuses to take the "no new taxes" pledge he has kept that pledge with his voting record, throughout his service in the Senate and the House. Yes, he did vote against Bush tax cuts – but did so because no cuts in spending accompanied the cuts in taxes.
John McCain may not have voted for an increase in tax rates, but he did vote against the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. Now, I know that Medved provided McCain's recent excuse of doing so because there were not spending cuts tied to the tax cuts, but that isn't what McCain was saying at the time

"I had expressed hope that when the reconciliation bill was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee, the tax cuts outlined would provide more tax relief to working, middle-income Americans. However, I am disappointed that the Senate Finance Committee preferred instead to cut the top tax rate of 39.6% to 36%, thereby granting generous tax relief to the wealthiest individuals of our country at the expense of lower- and middle-income American taxpayers."

Senate floor statement during debate over President Bush's tax relief package, May 21, 2001.

"We had an opportunity to provide much more tax relief to millions of hard-working Americans. . . . I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief."

Senate floor statement before voting against President Bush's tax cut, May 26, 2001.

"We have no idea what our financial or economic situation will be ten years from now. … We may want to have the flexibility to provide significant tax relief for lower- and middle-income taxpayers. Other unforeseen issues may arise. The point is that we must think beyond the horizon. Making the repeal of the estate tax permanent fails to take these new circumstances into account.

"We will need resources to deal with … responsible tax reform that benefit lower- and middle-income taxpayers."

Senate floor statement opposing HR 8, a bill to permanently eliminate the death tax, June 11, 2002.

MCCAIN: "Shouldn't we give relief to average citizens who also are double taxed every single day?"

HOST KATIE COURIC: "But, Sen. McCain, if you listen to Commerce Secretary Don Evans, and he just appeared on this program, working Americans, the middle-class Americans, under the Bush proposals will get a major break. A family of four making $39,000 a year, according to Mr. Evans, will get a $1,100 tax cut for several years, allowing them to plan their individual budgets. That sounds like something that won't just simply benefit the wealthy."

MCCAIN: "Well, I think it will. But when you look at the percentage of the tax cuts that—as the previous tax cuts—that go to the wealthiest Americans, you will find that the bulk of it, again, goes to wealthiest Americans. … A lot of Americans now are paying a very large a—low and middle-income Americans are paying a significantly larger amount of their income in taxes. I'd like to see them get the bulk of the relief."

NBC's "Today," Jan. 7, 2003.
That's just four of the top ten listed at Human Events, but I think that it sufficiently demonstrates that McCain was not against the tax cuts at the time due to lack of spending cuts. McCain opposed the tax cuts because they didn't punish the wealthy and favor the poor and middle-class.

Medved says this of McCain on immigration:

As Senior Senator from Arizona, McCain has fought for years to tighten border security, stop illegal immigration, increase workplace enforcement and to resist "amnesty" for those who entered the country without authorization.
I know that Medved repeats the "you can't deport 12 million illegals" line whenever enforcing immigration law comes up, based in part on the difficulty of actually doing so, and also in part on the impact it would have to the economy. I would question, though, what other laws would Medved be willing to have the government not enforce based upon the difficulty of enforcement or the impact such enforcement would have on the economy?

Further, it's not just Juan jumping the fence to do farm work for his suffering family south of the border. There are issues with identity theft, forged documents, lack of insurance, and use of resources at a greater expense (such as emergency room visits over standard medical care). American citizens are getting hurt by the laws that illegal aliens break outside of just being illegal aliens.

Look, plain-and-simple, if an individual is in this country illegally, regardless of the purity of one's motivation for doing so, then that individual is in violation of the law. A blanket round-up-and-deportation policy would be a nightmare, but forced attrition is much more attainable. Secure the border, enforce the existing laws (especially against employers), provide employers with a way to verify eligibility, have the SSA and the IRS work with ICE to identify individuals who may be using fake or duplicate SSNs, target suspect businesses in high-crime or high-unemployment areas, and generally force the migration of illegals out of this country by attrition.

That's not what John McCain wants to do, though. While Medved wants to use scare quotes around the word amnesty, I think that is very much what McCain wants to do on immigration. Sure, McCain has found religion as far as securing the border first, but then what? Z-visas and work programs to grant legal status to those who are here illegally for a fine and the promise of assimilation; that is amnesty in my book. That is forgiving an entire group of criminals for their past offenses by making them simply pay a fee for a get-out-of-jail-and-deportation-nearly-free card, never actually charging or punishing them for the laws that they flaunted and broke right up until the very end.

Are we going to be willing to do the same for tax cheats next? I mean, if they're doing it because the tax laws are too restrictive, and they're just trying to make a better life for their families, and if imprisoning them would hurt the economy because they make up 5% of the workforce; then we should just let them all go back to their lives for a flat fine and their promise to obey the law going forward and to work within the system from now on.

There is already a path to citizenship and a path to legalization, and the illegals haven't followed it. We don't need a new path, we just need to enforce the laws and force those here illegally out by attrition. Unfortunately, what McCain and Medved want is just a bribe to look the other way while officially forgiving past offenses.

Medved says this of McCain-Feingold (aka BCRA):

McCain-Feingold was a piece of useless, misguided legislation but it's done no serious damage to the country, the constitution or the conservative pro-life cause. After nearly seven years on the books, robust and impassioned discussion of political issues and candidates is more vibrant and free-wheeling than ever. The pro-life movement (with McCain's enthusiastic support) has made substantial progress in the last seven years, changing minds and hearts and driving abortion rates to their lowest point in 29 years—unimpeded by McCain-Feingold.
I've got to disagree in part. I agree that the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 "was a piece of useless, misguided legislation," but it is an impediment to free, politcal speech. Further, it did do damage to the pro-life cause in Wisconsin in 2004.

At that time, a group called Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) was running ads in opposition to the filibuster of judicial nominees to the Supreme Court. Since Senator Feingold of Wisconsin was running for re-election at that time, WRTL was told by the FEC that it would be illegal to run their ads urging people to contact Senators Feingold and Kohl over any discontent with their filibuster of judicial nominees. WRTL asked for an immediate injunction so that they could run their ads, but they were turned down.

As WRTL took their case to the courts in an attempt to be able to freely speak, there was an amicus brief filed on behalf of the FEC (against WRTL); John McCain was amongst the amici curiae.

Amici curiae, Senator John McCain, Representative Christopher Shays, and Representative Martin Meehan, are three of the four principal sponsors of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("BCRA").2 These Members of Congress have devoted enormous time and energy to ensuring that our federal campaign finance laws are meaningful and not subject to wholesale evasion. They worked for seven years to enact BCRA to close glaring loopholes in the then-existing system. They participated as intervening defendants in McConnell v. FEC to defend the constitutionality of those loophole-closing measures.

If the critical provisions contained in Title II of BCRA, at stake in this case, are not applied to advertisements like those that Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. sought to air, then amici's efforts will be gravely undermined. Corporations will once again obtain a roadmap to evading the longstanding ban on corporate expenditures to influence federal elections. Amici respectfully submit that the three-judge court correctly concluded that this Court's decision in McConnell is dispositive and reaffirms that Congress possesses the authority necessary to ensure that the federal campaign finance laws are meaningful and not routinely circumvented.

1 Amici curiae certify that no counsel for a party authored this brief in whole or in part and that no person or entity, other than amici, their members, or their counsel, has made a monetary contribution to the preparation or submission of this brief. The parties have filed letters consenting to the filing of this brief with the Clerk of the Court.

2 Senator Russell Feingold, the fourth principal sponsor of BCRA, is not participating as amicus in this case because the WRTL ads refer to Senator Feingold.
Luckily, section 203 of the BCRA as it related to the WRTL ads was found to be unconstitutional by U.S. district court; a ruling upheld by the Supreme Court.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE, joined by JUSTICE ALITO, concluded that BCRA §203 is unconstitutional as applied to the ads at issue in these cases. Pp. 10–29.
In the ruling the Court stated that "[t]he Court should give the benefit of the doubt to speech, not censorship." Unfortunately, the ruling looked only at the constitutionality of the BCRA as it applied to the WRTL ads, not the BCRA as a whole, so it is still open to be re-visited by a future court.

I fail to see how McCain being party to an amicus brief on the wrong side of the Constitution against a pro-life group is "enthusiastic support" of the pro-life movement, as Medved suggests McCain's support of the pro-life movement is.

All in all, I cannot support John McCain. I know that, even if Michael Medved decided to agree to disagree with me on the above points, he would still suggest that McCain is better than the Democrat alternatives. I have often heard Medved on his radio program point to the fact that not voting for McCain in the general election, if he does get the nomination, would hurt the Republican Party.

That's where I fall off. I'm a conservative, not a Republican. I used to be a Republican, but I got fed-up with the direction that the party was going. I will still try to work within the party to nominate conservative candidates, but I will not vote for a candidate who I strongly disagree with just because not voting for that candidate would help the Democrats.

The solution is simple: The Republicans need to present candidates that conservatives like me can vote for in good conscience. The Republican majority is gone, and it is gone in large part because of the un-conservative behavior of the former majority. Unless a candidate is close to my beliefs and convictions, that candidate will not get my vote. If the resulting outcomes are less than satisfactory for the Republicans, then they should look at why those who they are presenting as an alternative are not acceptable to a majority of the voters. It seemed to take a Carter to get a Reagan, so maybe this is a necessary course of action.

I survived Carter under my parents roof, and I survived Clinton on my own. I'm sure that my family now will survive a Democrat administration if that is what comes next. I won't like it, but we will survive.


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