Still Waiting for the Civil Libertarians

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Sep 28, 2008 12:39 PM
Missouri Governor Matt Blunt has released a statement denouncing the partisan Obama prosecutors and sheriffs in St. Louis and St. Louis county who are trying to suppress criticism of their candidate by threatening to prosecute anyone who releases what, in their view, is a "misleading" ad about him.  (Here's my original post on this matter from Friday.)

Governor Blunt rightly calls it an "abuse of law for intimidation" -- and it is, indeed, one of the most overtly totalitarian efforts to chill free speech that I've seen in my lifetime.

Where are all the civil libertarians and lefties who have spent the last seven years bemoaning unproven "violations" of rights by the Bush administration?  Surely they don't believe that terrorists deserve a more staunch defense of their rights than Obama critics do of theirs.

Update Now the prosecutors are backing down, with the help of the reporter who originally presented the story.  They're claiming that they just intend to "set the record straight" about misleading claims, and that they don't intend to prosecute anyone. 

But listen to the report (linked again here) which aired on St. Louis' KMOV, the city's CBS affiliate. Here are the newcaster's exact words:  The Barack Obama campaign is asking Missouri law enforcement to target anyone who lies or runs a misleading TV ad during the presidential campaign.   It says that these "truth squads" of prosecutors and sheriffs have been constituted at the request of the Obama campaign.  Why limit the truth squad to law enforcement personnel -- unless one wants to intimidate one's critics, and convey the impression that prosecutions can and will ensue?

Furthermore, the reporter himself says of the prosecutors, "They also say they plan to respond immediately to any ads and statements that might violate Missouri ethics laws."   And now they want us to believe that they plan to "respond" to violations of "Missouri ethics laws" simply by holding a press conference, or something?

This moment for the civil libertarians on the left is what the Monica Lewinsky scandal was for the feminists.  When feminists took up for Bill Clinton -- who clearly sexually harassed a young intern in his employ -- it became clear their objections to Justice Thomas had nothing to do with substance (i.e. the treatment of women in the workplace).  It was all about politics.

Now, if the lefties remain silent, it will be clear that all their hand-wringing about the alleged civil rights abuses of the Bush administration has nothing to do with concern for the Constitution -- and everything to do with their political agenda.