A bandwidth too far?

There were limits to John McCain’s subservience to Paxson Communications. He’d still make a terrible President, but it is refreshing to find a Republican who has some limits.

John McCain was willing to go to bat for his contributor Bud Paxson on the TV station swap, but when it came to the multi-billion-dollar issue of selling UHF bandwidth, McCain wasn’t playing. Scott Woolley tells the story in the latest Forbes.

This makes Paxson’s decision to remember the meeting he had with McCain on the TV station swap (a meeting McCain’s campaign flatly said never happened) less mysterious. It also helps explain why many Washington reporters think McCain, the man who allows one of his chief campaign strategists to run a lobbying business out of the back of his campaign bus, is a man of integrity. Obviously, he’s a more complicated character than the buffoon he plays during Presidential campaigns.

Still, that’s no excuse for the degree to which both reporters and the campaign-finance-reform community have gone into the tank for McCain on his attempt to back out of his commitment to accept public financing for the primary and the spending cap that goes with that commitment. Treating McCain’s violation of the law as a “technicality” while piling on Barack Obama for backing off his quasi-commitment to accept public-financing limits for the fall (in the face of what may be a quarter-billion-dollar swiftboating effort against him) is a case of straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com