after my yesterday post, both karen and goat made some assertions about fred's record. their comments/questions are valid concerns and the aim of this post is to address those items with as much clarity and honesty as can be found.
first, goat posited that fred had written mccain-feingold:
"I can spin Fred's record on the issues as well, he wrote McCain-Feingold and voted for it for one."
karen concurred and also stated:
"...on Fred's participation with McCain/Feingold. It used to be called McCain/Feingold/Thompson when it was originally passed and Fred was on many tv interviews taking credit for it, too. I don't have a specific at my fingertips but until he began running for president, he was happy to claim participation."
"Did a quick research scan and find these two examples right off the bat. Reference to the 105th Congress, Jan. 21, 1997, text of S.25, lists Thompson as a sponsor of campaign finance reform with McCain/Feingold.
A lengthy article in the June 23, 2007 edition of the Washington Times listing Thompson's record as compared to other Republicans/conservatives. As the Senator from Tennessee, for example, he is consistently listed as more 'liberal' than the other Senator from Tennessee, Frist, on social issues and domestic issues."
so now i set out to address these two concerns.
first, senator thompson has never denied that he sponsored mccain-feingold. for instance, in an interview with john fund of the wall street journal he speaks pretty openly about it:
Many on the right remain angry he supported the campaign finance law sponsored by his friend, John McCain. "There are problems with people giving politicians large sums of money and then asking them to pass legislation," Mr. Thompson says. Still, he notes he proposed the amendment to raise the $1,000 per person "hard money" federal contribution limit.
Conceding that McCain-Feingold hasn't worked as intended, and is being riddled with new loopholes, he throws his hands open in exasperation. "I'm not prepared to go there yet, but I wonder if we shouldn't just take off the limits and have full disclosure with harsh penalties for not reporting everything on the Internet immediately."
his comment on the per person limit is further explained below. perhaps the reason some are now trying to say he was one of the authors of the bill is because of his hands on approach to the negotiations to get the bill passed. according to www.campaignfinancesite.org the only senators credited with writing the bill are senators mccain (r-arizona) and feingold (d-wisconsin):
This summary of the McCain-Feingold bill, written by its supporters, Senators McCain (R, Ariz.) and Feingold (D, Wisc.), appears more reasonable and less restrictive of freedom of speech than many commentators consider it to be. It greatly extends the scope of federal limitations on contributions and expenditures and limits extensively political speech outside the confines of federal election law.
Obviously people—an agency of the federal government funded by the U.S. Congress—must be put in charge of making the decisions about what would and would not be permissible under such legislation.
it seems that both mccain and thompson ocassionally referred to the act as the mccain-feingold-thompson act but that seems to be due to his involvement with negotiations not because fred helped right the thing. i did find several bloggers saying it and an audio clip where laura ingraham says it in an interview with fred and he didn't deny, so maybe that's true. but it doesn't really matter. btw, in the interview (09/07/2007) fred attempts to make a case that part of it is ok and the rational makes a kind of sense. i just happen to disagree with it.
now, we must also remember, that prior to mccain-feingold's enactment, there were already campaign finance laws in place, called the federal election campaign act. the [flawed] intention of mccain-feingold was to reform that law. feca was originally written in 1971 with an eye towards increasing disclosure of contributions for federal campaigns; it was amended in 1974 to place legal limits on campaign contributions. it was also through this law that the fec (federal election commission) was born. the major provisions of feca (including the 1974 amendment) were:
- candidates were required to disclose the sources of all campaign contributions and campaign expenditures
- creation of the federal election commission
- establishment of public funding availability for presidential primaries and general elections - for those who accept public funding, limits for campaign expenditures were also imposed
- campaign contributions were directly prohibited from:
- corporations, labor organizations and national banks
- government contractors
- foreign nationals
- all cash contributions above $100
- contributions given in another's name
- campaign contributions given by individuals and organizations were greatly limited:
To each candidate or candidate committee per election cycle
To national party committee per calendar year
To any other political committee per calendar year
Total per calendar year Individual may give
Individual May Give
Multi candidate committee may give
Other political Committee may give
www.salon.com writes a [near] puff piece on how bcra was finalized with thompson and feinstein hoeing the tough road - for the most part it's a good read and has a good bit of information in it. but mccain-feingold is still bad law (so was the first one) and it should be repealed. only trouble, now, is that the supremes have upheld the majority of the law.
don't get me wrong, i'm not defending fred's involvement with mccain-feingold, but compared to feca the bipartisan campaign reform act is almost a thing of beauty. jake tapper from salon.com wrote a couple of articles on this - well, ok, he wrote a whole bunch of articles about this topic. the two i am speaking about are from march 29 and march 30, 2001. both are great pieaces, even if they are [almost] fluff - if you have the time check them out as they put the whole thing into laymen's terms and make the read somewhat entertaining.
now, onto the claim that fred was more liberal than frist during his time in the senate. according the american conservative union's ranking of congressional members in terms of conservatism. here is the link to the washington times article that karen mentions in her comment. it is a great article and if you have the time you should read it.
i will only say that while bill frist's lifetime conservative rating from acu was slightly higher than fred's, twice during his tenure bill's single year conservative rating was in the 70's. in 1997 bill's rating for the year was 72 and then in 2006 bill's rating for the year was 76; fred's lowest rated year was 1995 where he and bill both had a single year rating of 83. additionally, bill isn't running for president so his record really isn't pertinent at this point. he was, however, key in getting fred to join the race. he has been a huge supporter of fred in the past and continues to be even today.
again, i'm not saying fred is perfect. but imho he is better than anyone else in the field this time around. one last thing to address. karen also said in her comment:
No one is a 'true' conservative this time around and it's unrealistic to expect any candidate to meet all requirements for everyone. I also think Fred went negative first on the national stage - remember the debate where the candidates produced short videos? His went first and shocked everyone in the audience as it was a negative attack on Mitt, I think, when everyone else's spoke to the candidate's strong points. In the last few days, he has also been short with the interviewers on Fox. Just sayin'.
i disagree with your characterization of the spot fred ran as negative. i have never understood why it is considered "negative" to expose a truth about another candidate. this is not speaking ill of another republican, this simply presenting facts from the candidates' record.
a negative attack is when one comes out against something personal in the other person. for instance huckabee making references to mitts religion - religion has nothing to do with a person's public record, unless of course that person allows his (or her) religion to interfere with the job. btw, i notice that you don't mention his "negative attack" on huckabee in the same clip.
but i will agree with karen on one point - no one is a 100% true conservative this time around, reagan is gone and there's not another one like him. at least not yet. but in terms of performance on the 10 items human events readers say are the most important to the conservative base, fred performs better than anyone else currently in the race. and that is why he has my vote.