11/01/04 — Standing by those ads: They call this reform?

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Standing by those ads: They call this reform?

One interesting aspect of this election has been the new “stand-by-your-ad” requirement and how the candidates have used it.

That’s the requirement that when a candidate runs a television or radio commercial he must announce therein something like: “I’m Joe Politico and I approved of this ad.” You’ve probably noticed.

It’s part of the — stifle the laughter when you read this next phrase — campaign reform law called McCain-Feingold. This is the first national election we’ve had since Congress passed that law and, as we can all see, campaigns have not been reformed.

Besides, the law is unconstitutional, despite a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. It crushes freedom of speech like wheat in a flour mill, forcing candidates to say something they might or might not wish to say in ads for which they are paying.

The Supreme Court should find a way to correct this mistake.

Anyway, about the content of these “stand by your ad” statements ...

In the beginning of the election season you’d hear a candidate announce blandly, “I’m So-and-So and I approved of this ad.” Usually he sounded embarrassed, sleepy or bashful.

Then, as the campaign season progressed, so did the stand-by-your-ad announcements: “Hello, I’m So-and-So and I approved of this message and paid for it with money people gave me because they love me.”

Then it got to be real lively: “I’m So-and-So and I approved of this message because we have got to kick that other guy in the pants and get this county (or state or country) back on track toward prosperity and happiness for all.”

Yeah, right. And let us suggest another certification: “Hello, I’m the Congress of the United States, the president of the United States and the United States Supreme Court, and I approved of this law despite the fact that candidates ought to be able to say what they want to, and despite the fact that this law has filled the airwaves with poppycock.”

Published in Editorials on November 1, 2004 11:51 AM