My defense yesterday of The New York Times story on John McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman was pretty tepid. The story does, after all, have all the earmarks of an over-edited investigative mishmash with a fair amount of loaded “wink wink, nod nod” language from which the reader is to infer things that the story never comes right out and says.
But one thing that the story did get right, hence my headline McCain: It’s Not the Sex Stupid, is that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been doing a pretty good job of fooling his supporters when it comes to his claim that he was chastened by his involvement in the Keating Five scandal. That should have ended his career but didn’t, and since then McCain has portrayed himself as a white knight who fights lobbyists and their special interests on behalf of us little guys.
The reality, as The Times story documents, is that McCain has continued to cuddle up to lobbyists when it suits him and his presidential campaign is chockablock with them.
Times bashing is sooo easy even when your support for McCain is tepid, which is true of all three of the aforementioned pundits. McCain will raise some sympathy dough because of the story. Attention was diverted from the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton CNN debate last night because of the story (which was bad for Clinton).
But the story, warts and all, further reveals McCain to be an idiosyncratic Washington insider who plays by the rules when it suits him. Yes, Barack Obama rubs shoulders with lobbyists, but the contrast between he and McCain -- if that is the fall line-up -- inevitably hurts the elderly gentleman from Arizona and helps the whippersnapper from Illinois in this year of contrasts and change.
All of the right-of-center whinging over The Times will be short lived. The fallout from McCain’s failure to keep a pretty damned big promise will not.
McCain denies the allegations and innuendos made in The Times story, of course, but it's unclear what he is denying because of an intentional lack of specificity on his part.
One thing is damned sure: Absent a detailed denial – and pigs will fly before McCain provides one – he will be spending a lot of quality time making further denials as the details of Iseman’s lobbying and McCain’s possible involvement drip drip drip out.
Blogger emptywheel, among others, is already on the case and making some possibly interesting connections:"I find it a mighty curious coincidence that two of the companies for which Iseman was lobbying John McCain in 1999 and 2000--the time of their potentially inappropriate relationship--also happen to be the two television companies that championed the John Kerry smear, Stolen Honor, in 2004."More from emptywheel here. More on Stolen Honor here.
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