Oh, Lord. John McCain doesn’t even know what his own law is doing.
Paul from Power Line reports on a dinner he and about 40 others had with John McCain. Here’s what I found interesting:
I asked Senator McCain about the impact of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act on bloggers. He replied that he wanted no government regulation of the internet. I followed-up, politely I hope, by noting that a court decision in litigation undertaken in his name was serving as the basis for proposals to regulate the bloggers. McCain responded that he was not aware that the litigation had raised the prospect of internet regulation, and that he would look into the matter. He then reaffirmed that there should be absolutely no regulation of the internet in the name of McCain-Feingold or campaign finance reform.
The whole purpose of the litigation in question was to reverse the FEC’s exemption of the Internet from regulation under the BCRA. McCain and Feingold both supported the litigation, which resulted in a decision overturning the FEC and setting the stage for FEC regulation of the Internet.
McCain and Feingold were clearly aware of the purpose of the litigation. After a former FEC commissioner warned of the prospect that blogs could be regulated, McCain and Feingold issued a joint statement saying that, while the Internet would be regulated, speech by private citizens on the Internet would (supposedly) not be. Russ Feingold even blogged about it.
In light of this history, it’s an odd statement — to say the least — for McCain to claim that he “was not aware that the litigation had raised the prospect of internet regulation.” Even the prospect? And Sen. McCain believes that there should be absolutely no regulation of the Internet under McCain/Feingold?
This is so far off base that either Paul must have quoted McCain inaccurately, or McCain is the biggest space cadet on the planet.
UPDATE x2: Bloggers interested in this issue should consider taking my free speech pledge. If you’re interested, e-mail me at patterico AT patterico DOT com and send me the link to your blog post that takes the pledge.
UPDATE x3: Paul at PowerLine reacts to my post, and says that McCain clearly meant “bloggers” when he said “Internet”:
I was not taking notes while McCain spoke, so I couldn’t quote him verbatim, and did not purport to. That said, I have no doubt that McCain stated twice that he opposed government regulation of the internet under McCain-Feingold. However, in the context of my question, which was about bloggers specifically, McCain may well have meant, more precisely, that he opposed regulation of bloggers.
As to his lawsuit, it is clear to me that McCain did not understand the potential impact on bloggers of the judge’s decision. Indeed, he was candid enough to admit this, after several leading journalists confirmed my statement that the ruling in his case opened the door to possible regulation of bloggers. However, I don’t think the Senator intended to convey that he was unaware that his lawsuit had implications for the internet. I believe it was a case of him using the word internet when he meant bloggers, and I should have said so in my report.
Finally, having listened to Senator McCain answer questions on a wide range of subjects for about an hour at the end of a very long day, I can say for certain that he is no space cadet.
This makes a little more sense to me; it would be simply bizarre for McCain to claim that he had no idea that the litigation would raise the prospect of regulating the Internet.
But even if it is taken as referring only to bloggers, it still seems like an odd statement. I could understand if McCain had said that he had heard some people say that the legislation would impact bloggers, but he disagreed. But to say that he was not even aware that the litigation had raised that prospect — I’m sorry, but I find that astounding.
Please tell me: am I wrong about this??
P.S. By the way, I didn’t mean to claim that Paul was quoting McCain verbatim. This should have been clear from the context. My post above fully quotes the relevant portion of Paul’s post, which obviously paraphrased McCain’s comments and did not contain quotation marks around McCain’s statements. My use of quotation marks later in the post was to show that I was again quoting Paul’s post. Hopefully nobody was misled; again, I think the context makes it clear. But I thought I should add this postscript, just in case it wasn’t.