March 21, 2012

VIDEO: Senator McCain Refers To Supreme Court As ‘Naive’ And ‘Ignorant’ For Unleashing Citizens United Decision

On Meet the Press last weekend, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) harshly rebuked Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that unleashed unlimited corporate spending in American elections. McCain was the original author of McCain-Feingold, the legislation partially voided by the decision which placed limits on how much candidates could raise and spend.

Though he remained deafeningly silent when the case was handed down, McCain took the opportunity this Sunday to slam the five Supreme Court justices — Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito — for their “naivety and sheer ignorance” in advancing the “worst decision” in many years:

But just two years ago, McCain was singing a different tune. Just after the court handed down the Citizens United decision, Democrats in Congress worked to pass legislation that would at a minimum require attack groups — both union and corporate-funded — to disclose their donors and reveal the top donors at the end of their advertisements. McCain, however, did not support the legislation, called the DISCLOSE Act.

McCain dropped his reform rhetoric perhaps because he desperately needed campaign cash to defeat a strong primary challenge from the right that year. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the big business lobbying group that fought McCain-Feingold in the first place, filed an amicus brief supporting Citizens United, and generally hates any type of campaign disclosure — played a major role in helping McCain lock up his party’s nomination that year against J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ).

I confronted McCain about the contradiction outside of one of his fundraisers hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce a few months after the Citizens United decision. McCain ignored his own hypocrisy, and gave me his signature thumbs-up when I asked why he is palling around with the group most responsible for shredding his campaign finance reform law:

In the end, Republicans, including McCain, voted to kill the DISCLOSE Act legislation by successfully blocking debate in the Senate. Now it seems too late to find a federal fix for Citizens United — at least for the election this year.

  • CatKinNY

    McCain is himself exhibit A in the argument as to why we need to get the money out of politics. Here is a guy who, throughout his career, routinely reached across the aisle to get things done for the country, who used to jokingly refer to the press as ‘my base’ and who in the primary in 2000 saw his presidential bid get buried in an avalanche of dirty ads from big money, including one in South Carolina that suggested his south Asian, adopted daughter was his half black ‘love child’, because big money and big business knew GW Bush would do more for them, and the country be damned. The power brokers in the GOP then put a huge amount of pressure on him to support W, making it clear that he would never get the nomination, or support for reelection, if he didn’t fall in line. They wouldn’t let him draft Lieberman or Kerry as his VP pick in 2008, so we got Sarah Palin instead. In 2010, he had to accept help from the (Star) chamber to fight off a challenge from a right wing nut job talk radio host with Tea Party backing, so he took it, rather than let AZ send a Rush Limbaugh clone to the Senate. I’m hoping he’s decided it’s time to go back to being who he is, and to hell with the GOP. There are worse things than retirement.

  • Flybum

    Dear Senator McCain: I served in VA-93 aboard the USS Ranger during the sixties. You were always a hero of mine right up until the time that I found out that you support free trade. With everything that you went through, serving this country, I have never been able to understand your thinking about that issue. Nevertheless, I am happy to see that you are opposed to Citizen’s United and hope that you continue to have the welfare of the middle class in mind in other areas including bringing the jobs and factories back to this country.

    • DHFabian

      I personally care as much about the middle class as the middle class cares about the poor. That said, here is why things are unlikely to change: Those who have the power to enact policies to restore legitimate representative government are dependent on those policies that have ended representative government. Think about this: Since Reagan, the US has lost several trillion (yep, with a “T”) dollars to handouts to the rich. At the same time, we ended the entitlement to basic humanitarian aid to our poor. Now, based on this reality, which enrages the average American most? The fact that years of massive corporate tax cuts continue to be used to cover the costs of exporting our jobs, or that we still provide small food stamp allotments to some of our poor, elderly and disabled, which they are rumored to use on occasion for something pleasurable (a treat, whether a can of soda, some ice cream, etc.). You guessed it…

  • guest

    Always thought McCain has some good points but Palin was his downfall, do what’s right Senator. Do not let the GOP destroy you again.

  • Namaimo

    Senator Mc Cain — better late than never, but what took you so long, Mr. “McCain-Feingold”!

  • DHFabian

    I think Sen. McCain gives them too much credit. I’ve no doubt that they knew exactly what they were doing when unleashing Citizens United. That’s the real American Tragedy.

  • Flybum

    Do you suppose Senator McCain will ever see these postings?

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