Here’s the speech that would do it.
My friends, I am here today to announce what will be certainly be described in the media as flip-flops so stunning as to send a tingle up both Chris Matthews’ legs – and his notochord, since “spine” would be an overstatement.
I have examined the results of my efforts to remove the appearance of corruption from politics, and I find them to have been an abject failure. I see now that McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulation is an intolerable violation of the First Amendment. Worse, like other well intended leftist policies, its effect has been exactly opposite to the intent.
After my defeat in the 2000 North Carolina primary, I wanted to “clean up” politics by suppressing lying in advertising; as if protecting people who believe everything they hear was the job of government, rather than simply being impossible. Instead, I enabled a labyrinthine industry of 527(c) and 501(c) issue-based lobbying groups not subject to any easily accessible scrutiny.
For example, George Soros continues to pump vast sums of money into issue advertising, including such despicable ads as the attack on General Petreaus in the New York Times.
My friends, is this sort of attempt to affect public policy NOT lobbying? Was its genesis NOT secretive? Does it not appear corrupt?
I’ll bet you didn’t know Soros put a lot of money into 527s and 501s that lobbied for campaign finance restrictions. The Reform Institute, which I founded in 2001 as an unofficial arm of my campaign for president, was one beneficiary. I know now that I should have put the Constitution before my desire to be elected President. More information on this disguised lobbying initiative/campaign staffing ploy can be found here, here, here, here, here and here.
You have probably asked yourself why someone like George Soros, who freely spends his vast fortune on political messages, should be vitally concerned about restricting others from spending a pittance. I know now that I should have asked that. I didn’t. I’m sorry, and I’m ashamed. When I’m ashamed, as in the Keating affair; or pissed off, as in North Carolina, I make very serious commitments to correct things. If I can logically connect ashamed with pissed off, look out. McCain-Feingold was an attempt to assuage my guilt and ire in these cases respectively. That’s why it’s taken me so long to recognize what a mistake it was.
I am proposing that all restrictions on campaign finance be removed in favor of an absolute, complete, detailed and immediate disclosure of funding sources. Let the ads run. Let us know exactly who is paying for them. No cover in “foundations” or other bundling organizations.
For example, if T. Boone Pickens finances Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads, it should be known immediately. If he runs ads where he promotes a project he says will be “financed by private funds,” it should be revealed that he is in fact lobbying for billions in government funding that will result in what can truly be described as windfall profits for a Pickens-owned energy company in which the Speaker of the House has herself invested hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If he wants to build windmills with private money, supposedly like Nancy Pelosi’s, why is he running ads costing millions instead of simply building windmills and proving his thesis? Pickens is mounting a major advertising campaign because he’s lobbying for government assistance to build infrastructure in support of windpower, while simultaneously promoting the use of Pickens-supplied natural gas for automotive uses. One consequence of this would be to raise the price of heating your home. He doesn’t mention that.
If he wants to extract more natural gas, why did he ever say “[W]e can’t drill our way out of this.”? If we pay for the infrastructure Pickens wants, we should get at least as many shares of CLNE as did the Speaker of the House.
Frankly, such transparency is coming to pass anyway, as more and more investigative work is undertaken by a handful of so-called bloggers. Access to such information might as well be made easy for the average disinterested, Google-challenged American, and it might as well have some teeth making sure we find out when Jack Abramoff or Norman Hsu, or Ted Stevens or Nancy Pelosi are up to no good.
As to public campaign financing, my opponent has demonstrated that there is no practical limit to the campaign funding that may be achieved by an attractive and energizing candidate. Celebrity aside, however, the willingness to participate in public financing of Presidential campaigns (on which Senator Obama has anyway flip-flopped) is no measure of worth. Public campaign finance is a bad idea whose time has obviously passed. Without public financing, all candidates would have to appeal for support rather than taxing supporters and opponents alike. I say this knowing that, for me, it would have been disastrous in this election cycle. I probably would have reversed my position on campaign finance even earlier.
While we’re at it, recent events in Georgia have convinced me on grounds of both environmental protection and national security that it is not an option for the United States to arbitrarily prevent drilling in ANY location where private industry might recover fossil fuel of any kind. It’s not that we should allow drilling in ANWR, it’s mandatory that we drill there. The Russian invasion of Georgia has caused more damage to the environment, and to innocent people, than oil extraction has in the last 50 years while they simultaneously threaten to take complete control of vast amounts of oil. Meanwhile the Chinese are drilling just off Cuba.
In exchange for opening all of the United States for oil drilling and an expedited regulatory approval process; all subsidies to oil companies will cease. Some may call this a tax increase. I call it a reduction in corporate welfare. We’ll get out of your way. You get out of our pockets. As a bonus, you’ll save a lot on lobbyists’ salaries.
If Big Ethanol wants to take note of that, I have no objection. I’m calling for an immediate elimination of tariffs on Brazilian ethanol and cessation of all subsidies to domestic ethanol production. To eliminate the actual corruption represented by ethanol industry lobbyists, ethanol production will no longer receive any subsidies; through protectionist tariffs or in the form of tax breaks. There will be nothing to lobby for.
In closing, I am fully aware that several other positions I have taken, notably on global warming and the treatment of illegal immigrants, will still not sit well with many voters. Well, them’s the breaks. What I can tell you is that, unlike my opponent, I will never subordinate the interests of the United States to either of these things. In terms of implementation of actual legislation in those areas, you can read into that what you will. Take comfort in the fact that the phrases “global warming” and “climate change” appear nowhere in the GOP platform.
My judgment is not always perfect, as I have just now acknowledged. But, as far as change goes, I can do it when I see good reason for it.
I have changed my positions because they proved not to be in the interests of the United States. I will not change positions in the interest of making other countries like us more. That vastly distinguishes me from my opponent. So, I hope you will vote for John McCain in November, because the alternative is obviously the greater of two evils.
That’s straight talk. Thank you, and God preserve America.