George Will’s column today ostensibly describes obstacles blocking Lindsey Graham’s path to the Republican Presidential nomination. But it’s really an attack on Hillary Clinton. Will criticizes the South Carolina Senator for agreement with Clinton on two important issues: her strong support, as Secretary of State, for intervention in Libya in February and March 2011 and the anti-democratic implications of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision which reversed nearly all restrictions on campaign financing.
Will’s column contains glaring errors that undermine his criticisms of Graham (and Clinton). Regarding the decision to bomb Gaddafi’s forces as they steamed towards east Libya, Will characterizes it as a “protracted assassination attempt” that led to disaster. In fact, the administration deployed forces because it feared that Gaddafi was likely to massacre hundreds of thousands in Benghazi for supporting regime change and briefly liberating the city.
Will can’t be bothered to mention this inarguably humanitarian motive. He might respond that insurgents (and the President) overstated the threat of mass slaughter. But Human Rights Watch’s Tom Malinowsky, a critic of the Obama Administration’s use of drones to kill people in Yemen, defended the decision as “preventing” an atrocity.
Will’s second mistake is equally clear. He describes the rationale behind Citizens United as a simple recognition “that Americans do not forfeit their First Amendment rights when they join together to magnify their political speech.” The most significant effect of Citizens United is that corporations can spend virtually unlimited amounts of money to advocate specific political positions – generally positions that one candidate for office supports and his or her opponent opposes.
Contrary to Will’s assertion, campaign finance laws have never deprived any corporate officer or founder of First Amendment rights. Through laws struck down by Citizens United, legislators were attempting to limit the ability of top managers to wield corporate money (not their own) in ways that fundamentally distort the political process. Moreover, corporations are not formed by individuals seeking to magnify their voice in politics. They are formed by people seeking to get rich.
Simply put, Will’s factual and logical errors render his column worthless.