Sean Hannity has been on a crusade to get President Obama’s Super PAC to return Bill Maher’s $1 million campaign donation. Hannity calls it a “no-brainer”; his ostensible reason is that Maher has used bad words to refer to female conservatives. His real reason is to provide cover for his pal Rush Limbaugh, who thinks that asking insurance companies to cover birth control pills is indistinguishable from soliciting illicit sex.
But this is a perilous road. If money is speech, and the Supreme Court seems to think it is, then you can’t restrict campaign donations without restricting the First Amendment. Telling Maher he can’t donate because he is a self-confessed “potty mouth” is to tell him he is barred from the democratic process.
This is a very slippery slope. If Maher can’t donate, then presumably Limbaugh couldn’t either. And plenty of Hannity’s other buddies would have to be cut off. There’s Bill Cunningham, who calls Nancy Pelosi “Botox Pelosi”; and Ted Nugent, who called Hillary Clinton “a worthless bitch” who should suck on his machine gun barrel; and Ann Coulter, who remain unrepentant about saying that the 9-11 widows enjoyed the deaths of their husbands — still the ugliest comment I believe that I have ever heard in political discourse.
My advice to politicians in nearly every case is: Take the money. Campaign donors aren’t applying for sainthood; they just want to be heard. That’s supposed to be what America is all about.