Limiting links … to keep elections fair?

The Federal Election Commission’s Bradley Smith says that blogs, or at least political blogs, might get regulated soon, as part of the ongoing rollout of McCain-Feingold. (Thanks to Dave for the pointer).

On the one hand, what kind of crack is he smoking? Regulating the right of a blogger to link is like regulating the right of a human to breathe; it would be a draconian curtailment of freedom of speech. On the other hand, in this country campaign finance laws already curtail certain freedoms of speech in the interest of limiting the influence of deep pocketed contributors in the political process.

Except, of course, that our belief in general is that blogs re-democratize the individual citizen and enable them to participate in the process to a very large extent. That appears to be the angle that Smith is covering in raising the specter of Internet regulation.

The one piece that makes me nervous about the article is that Smith is a Republican member of the election commission, striking against a move by Democratic members of the commission. Is his alarmism merited, or just a partisan tactic to put his Democratic commission mates on the defensive? Where is the perspective in favor of taking this action? This is one of those issues where there are more layers in the mix than just blogging and speech.