Why is it that the media elite are promoting Sen. John McCain’s
presidential campaign? Why do liberals like Geraldo Rivera and
Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter offer such fawning praise for the war hero?
Certainly not because they particularly like war heroes.
They tell us they admire him because he exudes integrity, that he’s
the real McCoy. But I doubt that his integrity has much to do with his
popularity among those who generally find Republicans distasteful.
The fact is that these mainstream media mavens regard most Republican
policies repugnant. They find it very refreshing when one of the enemy
defects and exposes his own kind for the corrupt band of thugs they are.
McCain represents to them a Republican insider with first-hand knowledge
of his party’s limitless corruption and the courage to blow the whistle
on its evil ways.
Sure they like McCain’s zeal against the wicked tobacco companies and
his non-stop crusade for campaign finance legislation, which would
further empower them. But McCain’s primary appeal is that he is such a
consummate thorn in the side of Republicans.
It is no accident that almost all other Republicans oppose the
McCain-Feingold proposal for campaign finance reform. By banning soft
money while doing nothing to curb Democrat-favoring labor spending it
would give Democrats an unfair electoral advantage.
The media find McCain brimming with integrity because of his
single-minded mission to reform campaign finance laws. Yet, he has to
know that his proposal is unconstitutional under current Supreme Court
decisions. It’s not even a close call.
It would be one thing if McCain were advocating a constitutional
amendment to overrule Buckley v. Valeo. That would be playing it
straight. But merely to advocate statutory changes in laws that have
already been ruled unconstitutional bespeaks disingenuous political
There is another reason the media find McCain irresistible. He, like
some of their own icons, is overly eager to implicate himself as a
victim of supposed inequities in the existing laws. It’s a clever tactic
that has been masterfully used by Clinton throughout the Chinagate
scandals. When caught red-handed (pun intended) violating current
campaign finance laws, the administration diverted attention from its
criminal conduct by calling for new laws. It’s vintage liberalism. It
exempts the bad actors from accountability for their illegal conduct and
simultaneously calls for more laws — something quite dear to the
It was simply maddening to watch Clinton take the offensive by
vigorously promoting new laws after being caught with his fingers in the
till. The intended inference was not just that the current laws were
insufficiently clear (no controlling authority) to prohibit immoral
conduct but that the laws themselves, rather than the individual
violators, were responsible for any misconduct. How can the government
blame us when its own laws made us do it?
John McCain has followed the same M.O. He says, in effect, “I accept
generous contributions from corporations whose actions I oversee as
chairman of the Commerce Committee. But that’s OK because I’m violating
no existing laws.”
Also, in a rather Clintonesque way, he has painted everyone with a
broad brush of corruption, establishing moral equivalence for every
infraction, no matter the degree. He has even been willing to lump
himself in with the guilty parties. “Oh yes, we are all guilty of
misconduct. The system makes us corrupt.” (This creates the deceptive
appearance of a confession when it is precisely the opposite because it
seeks to create the impression that if everyone is guilty, no one
actually is. It’s the system, stupid.)
So the liberal (and the McCain) excuses for unethical conduct are
that the system itself is corrupting or that existing laws are
inadequate. That rationale is unacceptable for those holding themselves
out as moral leaders. Behavior is either ethical or not, irrespective of
whether it technically violates any laws. We want people to be able and
willing to police themselves; not those who will use the existing laws
or absence thereof as an excuse for unethical behavior.
It seems to me that John McCain is more on a mission to appear as a
reformer than to be one. Many like this approach. I just don’t happen to
be one of them.