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Tilting at Windmills

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February 21, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

JOHN McCAIN AND THE TELECOM LOBBYIST....OK, let's dive into the John McCain story. According to a heavily padded piece in the New York Times today, several of Mr. Straight Talk's aides became concerned during the 2000 campaign that he was spending a wee bit too much time with an attractive, 32-year-old telecom lobbyist named Vicki Iseman:

In 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, "Why is she always around?"

....A former campaign adviser described being instructed to keep Ms. Iseman away from the senator at public events, while a Senate aide recalled plans to limit Ms. Iseman's access to his offices.

In interviews, the two former associates said they joined in a series of confrontations with Mr. McCain, warning him that he was risking his campaign and career. Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman. The two associates, who said they had become disillusioned with the senator, spoke independently of each other and provided details that were corroborated by others.

Separately, a top McCain aide met with Ms. Iseman at Union Station in Washington to ask her to stay away from the senator. John Weaver, a former top strategist and now an informal campaign adviser, said in an e-mail message that he arranged the meeting after "a discussion among the campaign leadership" about her.

Josh Marshall thinks there's more here than meets the eye:

At the moment it seems to me that we have a story from the Times that reads like it's had most of the meat lawyered out of it. And a lot of miscellany and fluff has been packed in where the meat was.

....I find it very difficult to believe that the Times would have put their chin so far out on this story if they didn't know a lot more than they felt they could put in the article, at least on the first go....Equally telling [] is the McCain camp's response and their clear unwillingness to address or deny any the key charges of the piece. (Read the statement closely. It's all bluster.)

Radar reports that the Times, which has been chasing this story at least since December, only published now because it was forced into it:

Michael Isikoff of Newsweek and Michael Calderone of Politico were two of the reporters at rival publications who were chasing the Times story. Calderone was particularly well informed about the details of the Times investigation.

Over at Politico, though, Calderone says it was the New Republic who forced their hand:

According to [campaign advisor Charles] Black, the Times only went with the story now because The New Republic was set to run a piece next Monday about internal dissensions at the paper over whether to run the long-held article.

After the TNR reporter, Gabriel Sherman, began making phone calls to the Times and others outside the paper, they decided to publish, Black alleged.

And TNR says this:

The McCain campaign is apparently blaming TNR for forcing the Times' hand on this story. We can't yet confirm that. But we can say this: TNR correspondent Gabe Sherman is working on a piece about the Times' foot-dragging on the McCain story, and the back-and-forth within the paper about whether to publish it. Gabe's story will be online tomorrow.

That sure sounds like a confirmation to me, but I guess we'll find out more when Sherman's piece is posted. Meanwhile, over at Swampland, McCain aide Mark Salter says the whole story is a load of hooey:

Salter also said that the Senator would soon release statements from those people interviewed by the Times for the story — "dozens" according to him — who denied many of the facts alleged in the story (including Iseman's supposedly frequent presence in the Senate office), but who were not quoted in the piece. The Times also states that the lobbyist "accompanied" McCain to fundraisers. Salter was emphatic: "She ATTENDED McCain fundrasiers, she didn't ACCOMPANY McCain."

I guess that's enough for now. It's hard to say exactly what trajectory this story is going to take — McCain is a hypocrite? The media is corrupt? Disgruntled ex-aides can be a real problem? — but it's sure getting massive attention right now. It's not really ignorable.

Kevin Drum 1:29 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (128)

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Comments

but... but... Clinton!!!

/now that's out of the way

Posted by: anonymous on February 21, 2008 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

If I am reading the stories correctly, the key sources are Republicans.

Is this inoculation? Are they putting up a sex/corruption story in order to protect against future stories that would be corruption only?

It is impossible for McCain, as it is for any Republican, to win a national campaign without a tremendous amount of corrupt corporate assistance.

Am I being paranoid?

Posted by: James E. Powell on February 21, 2008 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

This certainly has been an interesting election cycle, so far.

Posted by: lifelongdemturninggreen on February 21, 2008 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Just what Old Huck has been staying in the race for.

Posted by: Percy on February 21, 2008 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

See, McCain is just being pre-emptively scandaled; if this were a real scandal, it would break between the time he had the delegates locked up and the convention. Aaaaand it would be about a homosexual affair. With an underage boy. And a horse. And pancakes.

OK, here's what we've got: the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people, under the supervision of the reverse vampires.

We're through the looking glass, here, people...

Posted by: anonymous on February 21, 2008 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

Back and to the left. Back and to the left.

Posted by: Huh on February 21, 2008 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the NYT is trying to atone for its years of pimping the Bill and Monica story.

Posted by: vinnie's cousin on February 21, 2008 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Is this inoculation? Are they putting up a sex/corruption story in order to protect against future stories that would be corruption only?

Bingo.

You gotta hand it to the McCain team. They played the NYT like a fiddle, and now they get the added bonus of slagging the 'liberal New York Times' for a couple of weeks.

Win-win. He may even shore up the conservative base by 'declaring war' on the same paper they've just spent 3 months negotiating with over this story.

Nice work. Charlie Black may be smarter than i ever gave him credit for.

Posted by: Stranger on February 21, 2008 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

Is this the stifled NYT bimbo story about an unspecified candidate that Kaus alluded to a while back? Didn't Kaus go on and on about how it was probably about Edwards? (ed. note: I think he did!)

Posted by: Steve on February 21, 2008 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting to know just how many people know of the existence of the NYT McCain story as a result of blog activity, as opposed to how many would have known about it in the pre-blog days. My guess is that the differential is in the millions. Something to contemplate...

Posted by: global yokel on February 21, 2008 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone remember Pamela Pitzer Willeford and Katherine Armstrong?

If only there had been something juicy and lurid about that story to get reporters salivating.

Posted by: memekiller on February 21, 2008 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

So who gets the nom when McCain drops out? Huck? Somehow I doubt it.

One word: Mittmentum!!!

Posted by: Bush Lover on February 21, 2008 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

As Kevin's post shows, this story is now not so much about McCain but about the story of this story.

Posted by: JS on February 21, 2008 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

For me the story is about McCain's hypocrisy as a campaign reformer if he's literally in bed with lobbyists, and then pushes their legislative goals.

Aside from that, though, it's amazing how much the NYT's had to fight to get this story out, and only then after being forced to when TNR started doing a story on the NYT's efforts to sink it. A Dem botches a joke and it's an instant four alarm fire, the indisputable fact that John Kerry was in Vietnam becomes fodder... what kind of power do these guys have to put so much pressure on the paper of record not to print details of sex, hypocrisy and corruption?

The media is so unbelievably compromised. I don't understand the forces behind it, and why we don't have the same leveredge, but the GOP wields enough power that they can still browbeat the largest newspapers in the minority, after blindly supportng the worst President in American history, and the most corrupt party to grace Congress, and who are guilty of the worst exploitation of fear since McCarthy.

Posted by: memekiller on February 21, 2008 at 3:21 AM | PERMALINK

Like a horrible version of Groundhog Day, every four years we're forced to go through the epic wretchedness of the media's coverage of a presidential campaign.

The media has seen fit to talk about John Edwards' haircuts, decided that "fairy tale" is a racist term, analyzed whether Hillary Clinton really teared up for a few seconds in New Hampshire, wondered exactly why Barack Obama turned away from Clinton before the SOTU address, and is now reporting that McCain was kind of chummy with a woman eight years ago, without any evidence that he actually did anything wrong.

I'd bet most political reporters know all about all that stuff above, but I wonder how many of them know the differences between Clinton and Obama's health care plans? Or their proposed solutions to the housing crisis? We certainly don't see that stuff. It's all triviality, all the time. No wonder we end up electing people like Bush.

Posted by: Steve on February 21, 2008 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

Simple solution to this conundrum. McCain is a suspect. Send him to Gitmo and waterboard him until the truth comes out.

Posted by: rational on February 21, 2008 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

How many stories has the NYT sat on until forced to publish by another outfit? Granted, a McCain dalliance isn't the same as spying on Americans, but I'm sensing a pattern here.

Posted by: Boronx on February 21, 2008 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Steve. In a sane world, Person Has Affair would not be a front-page story, let alone Person Maybe Had Affair.

Posted by: william on February 21, 2008 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

According to Veromi Vicki Iseman / Vicki L. Iseman was born September 1, 1961. Zabasearch just says "1967." As a rule, Veromi is a hell of a lot mroe reliable.

Considering how haggard she looks, it's more believable that she's 46 than 40.

Posted by: Anon on February 21, 2008 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

Typo corrected:

According to Veromi Vicki Iseman / Vicki L. Iseman was born September 1, 1961. Zabasearch just says "1967." As a rule, Veromi is a hell of a lot more reliable.

Considering how haggard she looks, it's more believable that she's 46 than 40.

Posted by: Anon on February 21, 2008 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

In a sane world, Person Has Affair would not be a front-page story, let alone Person Maybe Had Affair

Right -- but you are talking about Monica. Ths is not the story here. Rather:

Senator spends a lot of personal time, and maybe has affair with, Telecom industry lobbyist -- while same senator is active in Telecom industry legislation.

Not the same thing.

Posted by: JS on February 21, 2008 at 4:22 AM | PERMALINK

How'd McCain vote on the impeachment of Clinton, again?

I honestly can't remember. If he voted nay, then I have some sympathy for him. If he voted yea, then I say nail him to the wall with the biggest spikes available.

Posted by: BruceK on February 21, 2008 at 5:36 AM | PERMALINK

Lets not forget that there is now a group of Viet Nam Veterans who are organizing against John McCain .

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 21, 2008 at 5:48 AM | PERMALINK

We are not getting the news because 5 people own ALL the media. That simple.

As a friend remarked to me, "I feel like we're living in the old Soviet Union."

That's about it.

As someone who worked in the news biz. when it WAS news, there is absolutely no comparison now.

It is infotainment and you just have to try and get news from alternate sources and other countries.

How sad is THAT?!

Posted by: Clem on February 21, 2008 at 5:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Considering how haggard she looks" - Anon. This may sound mean but Anon is right on this superficial level. I can see some rightwing pundit (hmmm - Rush Limbaugh won't be the one) playing her "haggard" looks as a reason to dismiss the notion that there was any affair. Then again - I can recall a Clinton defender saying Bill couldn't have done Monica because he was chunky.

Posted by: pgl on February 21, 2008 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

Hillary probably does not want to go there, but I would guess Obama and Michelle can find some way to take subtle digs at McCain over this.

Posted by: bob h on February 21, 2008 at 6:34 AM | PERMALINK

i'm unclear.

is the story mccain's possible screwing around with a telecom lobbyist (and then carrying water for the telecom industry on capitol hill)?

which is both salacious and important.

or does the story have something to do with how office politics and proper sourcing shapes the stories the elite washington media decides to run (or not run)?

i hope it's the former. because the latter is a snoozefest.

Posted by: Auto on February 21, 2008 at 6:59 AM | PERMALINK

Maverick!

Posted by: B on February 21, 2008 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK

Actually if this was just about an 8 year old affair it wouldn't be much, but the fact that Iseman's clients had business before McCain's committee at the same time makes this story news. I guess the straight talk media whore sold out for a cheap piece er price.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 21, 2008 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

McCain intervened repeatedly with the FCC on behalf of his (apparent) mistresses' clients. That is, in fact, quite relevant.

Posted by: Marc on February 21, 2008 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, this might be used to completely neutralize any weirdness about Rezko.

McCain: "He let a corrupt lobbyist buy him a huge backyard"

Obama: "That sad old man will play hide the salami with any lobbyist under the age of 35"

Who will win a race to the bottom?

Posted by: asdf on February 21, 2008 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

lets be skeptical here
NYT endorses mccain
NYT sits on story that could have given Romney the nomination
NYT prints story now
conservatives rally around mccain condemning the actions NYT

shoring conservative support of mccain

NYT master manipulation of the american people,brings back the iraqi war runup and judith miller's con job via NYT

perhaps it wasn't all judith miller

Posted by: beachbum bob on February 21, 2008 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Well... I guess McCain is the real reincarnation of JFK. Sorry Barack, but getting chummy with slum lords won't get it done.

Posted by: ort on February 21, 2008 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm getting old, or something, but I'm pretty non-plussed by this story.

Posted by: leo on February 21, 2008 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Just like to point out that McCain's communication director Jill Hazelbaker, who we are going to be seeing a lot of in the coming days, has a history of sock-puppetry and lying that was exposed by the NYT back in Sept 2006.

http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/9/21/174/29062

Posted by: Onslow on February 21, 2008 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

EWWWWW...can't imagine why McCain would be interested in a gal young enough to be his daughter (wink,wink) with good old plastic, rich Barbie right at home! Geez, that was nasty...you'd almost think I was Rush or Ann or Sean or Drudge or Michael or Glenn or ?????? This just shouldn't be a story anymore than the continual bringing up of the MONICA debacle should be on the minds of all the dirty old men and dried up ladies of the media...

Posted by: Dancer on February 21, 2008 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Call me naive or call me cynical, but I just don't get the real scandal in this scandal, at least not yet.

On its face, it suggests that eight years ago, McCain may have had an affair with a lobbyist. Emphasize eight years ago.

Well, I guess one thing I conclude from this story is that McCain has had a wandering eye, and perhaps other parts. There are men like this. I guess I expect that men like this who are politicians might actually find women lobbyists, who, let's face it, are often chosen for their attractiveness, as the most obvious choices in their day to day lives as objects of pursuit. I'm not expecting large powers of resistance from these men.

In general, sex happens. You can outlaw money transactions between lobbyists and politicians all you want, but if you think you're going to prohibit sex, then you're a fool and puritanical fool at that.

Now of course sex is a bad thing, as we all know, since it inclines us to do favors for people we have sex with that we might not otherwise do. But acting as if sex between a politician and a lobbyist is the same thing as a money transaction, and driven by the same level of pure venality, as opposed to other kinds of forces, is just absurd and priggish. Does anyone believe that in his entire adult life Ted Kennedy, say, never went to bed with a lobbyist? Would we really care one way or another?

So unless there's another shoe to drop on this story, count me as somebody who sees it as far more tabloid sleaze than true political scandal -- and especially so since it took place 8 goddamn years ago.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 21, 2008 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

This is the McCain camp's way of innoculating him from the Keating Five history and from the cheating-husband-and-father-with-Cindy-the-husband-and-father-stealer history. Both topics will be undermined by this new and inconclusive tale.

... Just like there was nothing to see in Bush's Air National Guard service, just allegations about fonts in newly surfaced documents.

Posted by: punam on February 21, 2008 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0,

Excellent point.

And you know what men love almost as much as younger women? Boats. So if a politician got caught taking a boat in exchange for political favors, we wouldn't want to make a federal crime out of it. After all, men can't resist the offer of a nice boat, so we'd be fools to even ask politicians not to take them.

Posted by: DTM on February 21, 2008 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

The NYTimes is not terribly credible when it comes to scandals. They were snookered on the Whitewater non-story. They got the Weapons lab scandal wrong. This will sell quite a few papers. They can always apologize after they take the profits home.

A 71 year old senator who has been entrenched in office for 30 years carries a lot of baggage.

Posted by: bakho on February 21, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

I'm less interested in the sex part of it, though I'm sure that'll matter more to Republicans, than I do the possible influence of a lobbyist on the Senate committee McCain chaired.

Reading the article, though, it reads like a tabloid hit piece than anything I would be concerned about. But given what folks consider news these days, and what actually gets their attention, I suppose this is the height of journalism.

Posted by: Quinn on February 21, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

LOL, John McCain is complaining about media bias?

JOHN McCAIN??

That's more than a little rich.

Posted by: anonymous on February 21, 2008 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

DTM,

Yeah, an attractive woman is just like a boat.

More deep thinking at Washington Monthly.

How about stepping off your moral soap box, and getting a life? It will improve your perspective.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 21, 2008 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Wow!! What a shocking development!

Posted by: Kill Bill on February 21, 2008 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

look out for the "Straight Dick Express".

Posted by: melonhead on February 21, 2008 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0, it suggests an unusually clear form of "pay for play", except the roles of payor and player have been juxtaposed betwixt the lobbyist and the legislator. To wit - the "pay" was intervening(or attempting to) with the FCC for the lobbyist's client, in exchange for "play" aka inappropriate conduct with a person other than legislator's spouse.

Posted by: kenga on February 21, 2008 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Re: Story of what McCain did or didn't do. Do most of us have enough information to form a solid judgment about what McCain did or did not do? So far from what I have seen, my answer is, "No," I have not seen enough information to form a solid judgment.

Re: Story about the story. Do most of us have enough information to form a solid judgment about the story about the story? I don't think so.

My conclusion: I need more information before I can draw many firm conclusions about the story or the story about the story.

One conclusion I am willing to draw: this is going to have a beneficial impact for Democrats no matter what other information comes forth. Just how much beneficial impact depends on the nature of the information we receive from this point on.

Posted by: TK on February 21, 2008 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

One conclusion I am willing to draw: this is going to have a beneficial impact for Democrats no matter what other information comes forth. Just how much beneficial impact depends on the nature of the information we receive from this point on.

The same way the Dan Rather/Killian documents controversy hurt George W. Bush and benefitted John Kerry? There's a high possibility of backfire if the story were to fall through.

Posted by: Quinn on February 21, 2008 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK
How about stepping off your moral soap box, and getting a life? It will improve your perspective.

I'd suggest you work on your own perspective, like step back a little and look at the bigger picture.
Are you aware that East German intelligence, who had what may have been the best "record" during the Cold War for turning/creating double agents, used sex or the promise thereof as their most successful tactic?

I'm going to assume that you understood the reference DTM was making about the boat - referring to DukeStir - the piece of property that ultimately put Duke Cunningham behind bars.
Now, with that in mind: What is the biggest difference between a "piece of ass"(to use the objectifying vernacular), and a piece of property, vis-a-vis bribery?
One of them is un-traceable.

There's a big fucking(sic) difference between having an affair with an intern 20 years your junior for amusement sake, and having an affair with a lobbyist whose clients you repeatedly assist.
Especially for a guy who "has never taken money from lobbyists." Note that he didn't say "favors".

Posted by: kenga on February 21, 2008 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

McCain just called and raised the NYT. It's now up to the NYT to put up or fold. They don't need to raise, just call and show their cards.
Any bets on who's holding the winning hand?

Posted by: turtledove on February 21, 2008 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't know until three days ago, when I looked up Cindy McCain on wikipedia, that she got John to divorce his first wife and then married John one month later. Wow. And then I learned about her drug addiction and theft of drugs from her non-profit. Wow. And then I learned of the special legal treatment she received due to McCain's intervention. Wow.
So does this current story innoculate McCain from these less than admirable facts? Can the Evangelicals support this guy as the dirt works its way out from under the rug?
My bet is no.

Posted by: joeis on February 21, 2008 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

I think there's enough evidence that McCain was up to something. That his staff was so concerned about it is what did it for me, combined with the fact that there's really no need for him to be with this lobbyist all the time. Let's say you had a staff member who you work with everyday, and you fall into "like" with them-- that's one thing. There's a reason for you to be around with them all the time. I'm sure all sorts of professionals have subordinates they sometimes rely on a lot, and the reliance develops into a friendship, so you start acting like friends. Nothing crossing-the-line has to be going on. And one of the parties can even start taking it too seriously, without letting the other on to it. But it may still not be a bona fide affair.

But, this was a young lobbyist. Why does he have to see her all the time?

Otherwise, I'd feel compelled to point out that sometimes friends who think you're into somebody are totally mistaken, and even people who think you like them may be totally mistaken. But McCain chose to hang out with this person he totally didn't have to see, all the time.

I also think Josh Marshall's hanging a lot on the phrase "behaved inappropriately" is wrong. I just don't think a lot of straight, white men would feel cornered by their staff when confronted about something like this that they'd turn to using the words "behaved inappropriately" as an admission of guilt. More likely, I think you'd use those words as spin-- try to make it look like you're admitting you made an ass of yourself by hanging out with her too much in a platonic way, but nothing more. After all, there's no indication the staff caught him in flagrante delicto.

Posted by: Swan on February 21, 2008 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

melonhead: the name for this scandal, if it has legs (as it were), is "smooth talk express"

Posted by: jeremy on February 21, 2008 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

The romantic part is just the fluff, the real damaging part of the story is the fact that McCain is using corporate jets of Paxon Communications at the time they have business in front of his Commerce Committee, especially when you've built a reputation as having "seen the light "after the Keating Five affair. It may not be illegal but it sure is a questionable ethical practice.

At least with incident, the Keating Five incident and the pressure he brought to bear to cover up Cindy McCain's theft and usage of drugs from her medical charity incident, it's obvious his ethical lapses are for friends and family, not money.

Posted by: The Other Ed on February 21, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Anyway, Republicans loooooooooovvvee smut, and the more holier-than-thou and prudish the Republican, the more likely it is that they're enthralled by this stuff. Now that it's been in a newspaper, it's everybody's business. So for certain, they'll try to do something with it, whether they're part of the pro-McCains or the anti-McCains-- they'll try to use this story as a means toward every end.

Posted by: Swan on February 21, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Here's what the dumb bimbos of the world will be thinking:

"Oh my God!!! He had an affair with his young lobbyist, and it didn't work out for him?!? That makes him so sympathetic!!!"

And the cycle of affairs with young air-heads continues...

Posted by: Swan on February 21, 2008 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/02/20/vicki-iseman-and-cindy-mc_n_87708.html

Posted by: blondie on February 21, 2008 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Swan-

Try cleaning up your own side of the street, please, before maligning the folks on the other side of the street for how they take out the garbage.

Posted by: turtledove on February 21, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Say it ain't so, John. *wiping tear from eye*

Say it ain't so....

Posted by: Stefan on February 21, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Either the GOP will toss him from the bus, or they'll forget their differences, pull together, and go to war with the NYT.

How's that for healing?

Posted by: Model 62 on February 21, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan-"Say it ain't so, John. *wiping tear from eye*

Say it ain't so...."


Pay attention, please. He already did.

Posted by: turtledove on February 21, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Anyway, Republicans loooooooooovvvee smut, and the more holier-than-thou and prudish the Republican, the more likely it is that they're enthralled by this stuff.

Shut up, you imbecile. Republicans do not enjoy smutty things, nor do we get off on this type of thing.

We like smart commentary, action, and anything that celebrates America. We like the military, the stock market, and we like expensive cars. Keep your mind out of the gutter, and watch your Ps and Qs.

How could anyone be any more stupid than you? I swear to the God on high who looks down, I could turn my keyboard upside down and mash it with both fists like Frankenstein and type out smarter comments than yourself.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 21, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Careful, Swan--

Before the Second Wave, we would have said that a young woman who seeks a committed, romantic relationship from a powerful man who only wants her for sex was "being used for sex." Now since the forces of patriarchy effectively mind-fucked the feminist movement, we say that she is "using him for sex."

At least, if you're going to do some lumping-in, ignore the girls who want a romantic partner, and describe them all as calculating women who are forcing the man to cut her breaks, like we do.

Posted by: Feminist on February 21, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Does the NYT have any evidence that there was an affair? Of course not, the NYT doesn't have to. This isn't any different than when they reported about the supposed affair that John Edwards had.

I don't like John McCain, but this story seems to be out there. Vicki's job was to get close to politicians so she could influence them on behalf of her employers. McCain's handlers felt she was getting too close, and took steps to keep her away.

What did I miss?

When can we have some real journalism?

Posted by: DR on February 21, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

I can't imagine, in a rational world, why John McCain would be a credible Presidential candidate. Personally and professionally, he has shown nothing but low morals, flip-flopping for political gain, and selling out to the highest bidder (usually Bush). His personal life is and has been a mess and he apparently has no fixed or guiding precepts that inform his poltiical decisions. Plus, of course, he looks like everyone's great-grandfather, dressed up in a suit and propped up at the podium.

The one and only reason that he has survived and prospered is the media adulation heaped on him, from the homoerotica paeans of Chris Matthews to all the slobbering of Fox news. As someone said above if a Democratic politician sneezes, it is instantly reported as an anti-American act (with the exception of Obama, who will endure that kind of scrutiny eventually, when the media is through destroying Hillary Clinton). The telling point of this story is that it was deliberately held by the NYT from December until now, after McCain had sown up the nomination. Think that wasn't a deliberate decision to help McCain? What liberal media indeed.

Posted by: solar on February 21, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

"There's a high possibility of backfire if the story were to fall through."

On the affair? Perhaps. On the "in the pocket of lobbyists?" I doubt it.

Posted by: PaulB on February 21, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

kenga,

I'm sorry to complicate your tightly packaged world view, but sex really is a special case.

Now, as I said, I certainly understand that sex does incline people to do things they might not otherwise do, and sometimes things that they shouldn't do. I have no doubt but that in lobbying, as well as more generally in marketing and sales, the sex appeal is part of the reason that representatives are chosen.

But in the end, sex is something driven by forces far more complex and personal than the ordinary venal appeals of money and bribes.

To begin with, I would expect that between a lobbyist and a politician, when a sexual relationship develops, the vulnerability can be intensely felt on both sides. I very much doubt that the typical hard-driven male politician is going to be more vulnerable in a sexual relationship than the typical female lobbyist. At minimum, I won't presume to say, absent more knowledge, who the more vulnerable party is. It's just absurd to compare this sort of case to that of the East Germans manipulation of men via female spies. If you can't see the difference, I don't know what to say.

Mostly, I think, one just has to treat sex between people in power and others as occupying a moral dimension that simply doesn't connect well with our expectations of correct behavior under other circumstances. Of course, this makes things more complicated. Blame reality for that one.

And, just to bring back the point, does anyone really believe that Ted Kennedy (or for that matter any of the Kennedys) in his merrier days refused to sleep with lobbyists? Would anyone really make a big deal of his choosing to put just one more notch on his belt if that notch belonged to a lobbyist?

If not, why the holy outrage over McCain's behavior?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 21, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

"If not, why the holy outrage over McCain's behavior?"

It's the hypocrisy, stupid.

Posted by: PaulB on February 21, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Mostly, I think, one just has to treat sex between people in power and others as occupying a moral dimension that simply doesn't connect well with our expectations of correct behavior under other circumstances."

We "have to?" Says who? The events of the past few decades suggest that your view is not widely shared by the American electorate.

Posted by: PaulB on February 21, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Two initial thoughts after watching CNN this morning:

First, the standard "This story is good for Republicans" theme.

Second, the anger of some of the CNN analysts directed towards the Times for having the audacity to print something negative about St. John.

Posted by: Mike Lamb on February 21, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

The special airplane trips are the part of this story most likely to make it stick for a while.

The part where he went out of his way to hide from view the special jet trip he took with "that woman" (as distinct from the other more routinely corrupt flights supplied by the Paxson corp) on its face appears to be an admission of impropriety.

Posted by: cracked on February 21, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

To begin with, I would expect that between a lobbyist and a politician, when a sexual relationship develops, the vulnerability can be intensely felt on both sides. I very much doubt that the typical hard-driven male politician is going to be more vulnerable in a sexual relationship than the typical female lobbyist. At minimum, I won't presume to say, absent more knowledge, who the more vulnerable party is. It's just absurd to compare this sort of case to that of the East Germans manipulation of men via female spies. If you can't see the difference, I don't know what to say.

That's a pretty good analogy, but you're missing the point: women use sex to destroy men who are powerful every day in this country.

Whether it's by wearing a certain type of shirt or by wearing a heel that is over 2 inches in height, a woman can effectively destroy a man in the business world simply by showing up. She doesn't even have to be attractive, although it does help, in the case of people like myself who are also attractive.

When I was approached by a woman who worked for a rival investment bank many years ago, I figured it was about the power. No, it wasn't. I then figured it was because my investment bank was competing with hers for a lucrative chance at creating a deal for a large utility company. No, it wasn't. I then realized that the reason why she was crawling across my office floor on all fours in a leopard print lycra catsuit was because she was inordinately kinky and predisposed to having her way at the expense of a good man's marriage. Plus, she was waving around this thing--which I will NOT describe--and it gave me the shivers. I have the shivers now just thinking about how floppy it was. I had to turn her down. I did not want my third wife to think that I was weak.

The bottom line is, of course McCain was having sex with her. That's a given. Did he have sex with her on government property? Unforgiveable.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 21, 2008 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Just as an example to show how sexual relationships between people in power and others is complicated, consider Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

On one level, one wants to say: it's outrageous! Monica was young enough to be his daughter! He was using his position of power to seduce her! She was just an intern! The immorality! The horrors! The humanity!

And yet when one looks at the actual circumstances, everything changes. It becomes clear that Monica was, by any reasonable accounting, very much an aggressor in the situation. She could hardly have been more of a willing partner. She was of age, and very able and very willing. Clinton at no point used his powers to seduce her.

The point is, all of these details entirely changes the moral assessment of the affair. It's not one size fits all. Precise circumstances matter.

And so it is generally with such affairs. Only prudes, I think, don't get this point. And God knows that there seem to be every bit as many prudes on the left as on the right. Sometimes I think that they are the same people, just with different decals on their soap boxes.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 21, 2008 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Matt Lauer on Today this morning said he'd known about it for months.

And the WP hinted at it in this story from December 21 of last year (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/20/AR2007122001356_pf.html), mentioning the lobbying but not the sex angle:

------

Sen. John McCain said yesterday that he has "never done any favors for anybody -- lobbyist or special interest group," as his presidential campaign issued a statement denouncing allegations of legislative favoritism as "gutter politics."

The Arizona Republican has hired a prominent Washington criminal attorney, Robert Bennett, to deal with the matter. "What is being done to John McCain is an outrage," Bennett said in an interview.

Bennett said he sent prepared answers yesterday to written questions submitted by New York Times reporters who have spent weeks investigating questions about whether the senator did favors for a Washington lobbyist or her clients. She has also retained a lawyer, according to a knowledgeable source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing legal matters.

McCain called Times Executive Editor Bill Keller this month to deny the allegations and to complain that he was not being treated fairly by the Times reporters, who had not yet interviewed him, the source said.

The Times inquiry burst into public view when the Drudge Report Web site posted an item about the newspaper's probe. Keller did not respond to a request to comment.

Posted by: Phoenix Woman on February 21, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0,

You start off implicitly making an excellent case for the proposition that sex may well be an even better way to manipulate people than money.

You end by suggesting we should just carve out an exception for sex-motivated actions from our rules of conduct for public officials.

How do you justify drawing what seems to be the opposite of the logical conclusion from your premises? As far as I can tell, it is by just claiming it would be "absurd" to somehow see all this as a problem. Also, you think Ted Kennedy probably did it.

Do you really think that is going to be persuasive?

Posted by: DTM on February 21, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK
I have no doubt but that in lobbying, as well as more generally in marketing and sales, the sex appeal is part of the reason that representatives are chosen.

This totally explains why Trent Lott bolted from Congress! He wanted to get into lobbying while his sex appeal was still at its peak. I get it now. (Yes, it's one guy, whose value as a lobbyist comes from his Congressional experience.)

I very much doubt that the typical hard-driven male politician is going to be more vulnerable in a sexual relationship than the typical female lobbyist. At minimum, I won't presume to say, absent more knowledge, who the more vulnerable party is. It's just absurd to compare this sort of case to that of the East Germans manipulation of men via female spies. If you can't see the difference, I don't know what to say.

See, this is one of the places you lose me.
Are you saying that the typical "hard-driven male politician" has spent 5 years being tortured(and broken)as a POW, and has subsequently made a big deal out of not taking money from lobbyists and "special interests"?
'Cause I'm not seeing that. In fact, he's kind of a statistical outlier in that respect. And we already know he can be persuaded to abrogate his oaths, by a woman.
And if you can't see the similarities to East Germany's use of spies(they didn't just use women), which exist quite independently of what you or I think, I don't know what to say.

Posted by: kenga on February 21, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Alright, despite turtledove at 10:02 AM's comments, I am not doing anything more than commenting on this situation as much as it warrants- just like Kevin and doubtless, countless other Americans have been and are doing all across this land. I'm definitely not doing what surely a lot of rural-state Republicans are doing- obsessing over it because this is my "big chance" to think about sex without it being "wrong" for me to do so.

I'm sure a lot of Republicans out there would like to dictate every detail of sexual morality to me and to everyone else. But I, for my part, don't think it's my duty to dictate to Republicans how much sexual thought is morally ok for them to engage in- rather, I think it's their prerogative to think about sex as little or as much as they want to, even if I think that their thinking about it a lot when the particular sex they're thinking about is somebody else's is a little silly, just like I may think a New Jerseyan's being nasty to everyone he meets is his prerogative, even if I may think it might not be the best strategy for him to pursue in living his life and dealing with others.

Let's return to The Normal Zone now . . .

Posted by: Swan on February 21, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

just like I may think a New Jerseyan's being nasty to everyone he meets is his prerogative, even if I may think it might not be the best strategy for him to pursue in living his life and dealing with others.

Could you expand on this? Because your pathetic little stories are quite entertaining. It's like watching an after-school special about some pathetic loser who has to go around with a hockey helmet because the big kids keep bopping him on the head with a ball peen hammer, only with more pathos and less dignity overall.

Watching your tortoise-like brain try to run like a rabbit in public is a fascinating example of why blog commenting should be limited to a handful of sane adults and should be a privilege denied to most Americans.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 21, 2008 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0 -
I should add, I agree that it's a grey area, and in any romantic or sexual relationship there is often plenty of vulnerability to go around, and it's possible that favors made were unasked for, or even specifically asked to be left un-made.

Posted by: kenga on February 21, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

And, just to bring back the point, does anyone really believe that Ted Kennedy (or for that matter any of the Kennedys) in his merrier days refused to sleep with lobbyists? Would anyone really make a big deal of his choosing to put just one more notch on his belt if that notch belonged to a lobbyist?

Would anyone really make a big deal of it? Yes. Republicans would. The media would. The chorus of blow-dried chattering pundit gasbags would. So now that the shoe's on the other foot.....

Posted by: Stefan on February 21, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0,

Actually, from your recent comments it appears you think people are trying to make a sexual harassment case out of this.

Um, no. To the extent it is an issue, it is an undue influence case.

Posted by: DTM on February 21, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

I am wondering if the total whitewash of McCain's marital history in the press will continue in light of this scandal?

Here is a guy who cheated repeatedly on his wife and then dumped her to marry a rich young blond to fuel his political ambitions -- and virtually no voter is aware of this.

Posted by: Artemesia on February 21, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

"Um, no. To the extent it is an issue, it is an undue influence case."

Precisely, which is why his Clinton analogy is singularly inapt. And, unlike Clinton, McCain has made his whole career, and his run for the presidency, on his "straight talk." Puncture that reputation and he sinks. With Clinton, his reputation was never an issue, which is why people yawned their way through the spectacle.

I will say this, though; I agree with Josh Marshall that the meat of the story is missing. Only time will tell whether there really is something there or not. Even if there is not, McCain may still regret this day, because if his reputation is punctured in the media, which has fawned and slavered over him endlessly, he's in trouble.

Posted by: PaulB on February 21, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

I predict a Huckabee win in Texas.

Only prudes

America is a prudish nation. Most Americans, fascist, conservative, moderate, liberal or leftist, dislike married people havng sex with other partners. Many Americans disapprove of unmarried adults having sex. Despite the fact many Americans do have sex outside their marriages, they still condemn others for engaging in it.

Posted by: Brojo on February 21, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0,

Actually, that was wrong--it turns out "undue influence" doesn't mean what I thought in legal circles.

So, I will stick with simpler terms: corruption and bribery.

Posted by: DTM on February 21, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK
America is a prudish nation.

And we're pretty freaky.
Prudishness and freakiness seem to have a have a high correlation.

I wish I were more prudish.
Oh well. At least it's really, really good vanilla.

Posted by: kenga on February 21, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Paxon Communications

This company owns a television station in my city that ran the swift boat movie about five or more times consecutively on the Sunday before the election in November 2004.

Posted by: Brojo on February 21, 2008 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

DTM,

I am hardly claiming that the case is one of sexual harassment rather than undue influence.

I am, pretty obviously, pointing out that, when it comes to cases of "undue influence" due to sex, it is every bit as complicated morally as many sexual harassment cases, and for the same reasons.

It may be that there is actual evidence of significant "undue influence" being exerted. That would be a different matter, of course. But the presumption that we must treat this case as one of undue influence as we would a case in which money or gifts were involved is just groundless, and priggish.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 21, 2008 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, Lord, please let her have a blue dress she never took to the cleaners...

Posted by: elmo on February 21, 2008 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0: Mostly, I think, one just has to treat sex between people in power and others as occupying a moral dimension that simply doesn't connect well with our expectations of correct behavior under other circumstances.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: "One" on February 21, 2008 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Yawn. We already know he is corrupt by his stand on illegal infiltration.

Posted by: Luther on February 21, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Just wonder, anyone have scoop on to what extent there was very likely real sex going on? Some people fooling around don't go all the way, indeed the oddity of the Clinton caper is that oral sex could be called "not intercourse" under the rules the lawyers questioning him had devised IIRC.

Posted by: Neil B. on February 21, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

This totally explains why Trent Lott bolted from Congress! He wanted to get into lobbying while his sex appeal was still at its peak...

...Oh well. At least it's really, really good vanilla.

Exploding with mirth over here...

Posted by: shortstop passes kenga the Jujubes on February 21, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

I think that most of the points to the effect that the American public makes a big deal out of such sexual activity, and therefore it's a legitimate political story, fail to grapple with a real issue here: on what grounds did the NY Times justify its use of the story?

Presumably, the NY Times doesn't publish stories just because they can make the public jerk its knee (let's call it). Presumably they have in mind some higher moral purpose that is being served. They proudly regard themselves as superior to the National Enquirer.

Well, what is that higher moral purpose? How do they really make out that argument?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 21, 2008 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

If only Clinton’s White House Staff had been as on top of things as McCain’s staff, and sent Monica packing before things developed. McCain evidently has a thing for skinny blondes, but his staff saved him on this one.

Posted by: fafner1 on February 21, 2008 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

And may I add just one further, possibly relevant point about the questionable ethics of the NY Times publishing this story?

They provide nothing -- nothing -- that constitutes solid evidence that McCain had an affair.

Don't you just think that, before going ahead with a story like this, confirmation is absolutely essential?

And the many Democrats who are salivating over the story might ask themselves a simple question: how hard will it be for the NY Times to use the very flimsiness of story as still further justification for putting out a story equally flimsy against Democrats in the future -- in the interests of "balance"?

Be careful what you wish for.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 21, 2008 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0,

I'll make this my last word on the subject.

Personally, I view the essence of corruption and bribery as being public officials improperly using the powers of their office in exchange for something to their personal benefit. I don't particularly care whether that something to their personal benefit takes the form of cash, or a boat, or home improvements, or a job for a relative, or so on.

You appear to be arguing that I should carve out an exception for cases in which this something to their personal benefit takes the form of sex. But aside from repeatedly implying it is "absurd" and "priggish" for me to be concerned about public officials being corrupted with sex, you actually seem to be supporting my view by explaining how sex would be a pretty good thing to offer an official you were seeking to corrupt.

So, I am unpersuaded we need a special sex exception to our ordinary rules for the conduct of public officials. Sex is something which public officials may personally value, maybe more than some other things, and hence is something that can be used to corrupt them. And I don't think it is "priggish" to recognize this.

Posted by: DTM on February 21, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

The real story here is the love affair the press has had with John McCain. The guy votes like your standard hard right reliable conservative Stepford senator, but he talks to the press all the time about how he is really different. He is really a moderate in conservatives clothing. His greatest accomplishment in all his years in the Senate is not McCain/Feingold, it is surviving one of the worst political scandals of the last 50 years. He was a key member of the Keating five. For those of you old enough to remember, the Keating five was not a basketball team. It was a scandal involving five very powerful senators who made Duke Cunningham look like a chiorboy war hero fighter pilot. Since two of the Keating five were John Glenn and John McCain never has the press brushed a real scandal under the rug more successfully.

Ever since John has been the darling of the consolidated corporate media. He has been willing to do whatever they asked of him. He will show up on any talk show at any time to say anything the consolidated media asks.

Will he remain the media darling after this dust up? My guess is yes. You can already see the press forming a human shield around him.

This scandal broke now and not in December because the NYT held it as long as they could. Had they broke it earlier, it would have sunk his primary campaign. The NYT worked hard to help their boy John. My guess is they knew that if they didn't break it last night, it was bound to come out today.

The five guys who own the consolidated corporate media want John to be their president. They will do anything they can to make sure it happens.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 21, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like the story has made righties rally 'round

Conservative media outlets rushed with surprising vehemence to defend Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday against a critical article in The New York Times, embracing a maverick they have often attacked.
Rush Limbaugh calls it "the drive-by media ... trying to take him out."
Laura Ingraham, another influential conservative radio host, said the Times waited until McCain was on the brink of the Republican presidential nomination and now is seeking to "contaminate" him with an article that she calls "absurd" and "ridiculous."
CBN.org, the website of the Christian Broadcasting Network, says an attack by the Times is "a conservative badge of honor." …

This should solidify the base. As William Bennett once proudly proclaimed: "Look, hypocrisy is better than no standards at all."

Posted by: Mike on February 21, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

I think a more accurate way of describing this than "bribery"--which refers to an exchange of goods or services for influence that sometimes accurately describes a sexual relationship but more frequently does not--is to call it providing favors to someone with whom the politician has a close relationship. As kenga notes, it's perfectly possible that said favors were not explicitly requested or even referred to.

Like doing favors for friends and family, exerting influence on behalf of one's sexual partner is a rather natural (but highly unethical) impulse that is not recognized--or at least not acknowledged--by many as quid pro quo. But of course it's just as shady as accepting a briefcase full of bills under the table, perhaps even more reprehensible because of the casual and unthinking nepotism involved at times, and the "well, I'm following the letter of the law if not the spirit" justification used at other times.

And, as the NYT story implies, McCain seems to have a history of believing that those kinds of inexplicit exchanges, unlike the stark acceptance of cash from lobbyists, aren't dirty at all. (A good example: he refused to take direct commercial flights between Washington and Phoenix because he'd pushed for the route to be opened, but had no problem accepting free rides on corporate jets. He just didn't see the problem there.)

He shall shortly see that the electorate quite correctly feels differently.

Posted by: shortstop on February 21, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

And the many Democrats who are salivating over the story might ask themselves a simple question: how hard will it be for the NY Times to use the very flimsiness of story as still further justification for putting out a story equally flimsy against Democrats in the future -- in the interests of "balance"?

Yes, I shudder to think that the New York Times might ever put a flimsy or even false story against a Democrat, because Lord knows, that's never happened before....except, of course, in the case of multiple stories involving Bill and Hillary Clinton, Whitewater, John Dean, John Kerry, John Edwards, Barack Obama, etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: Stefan on February 21, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I shudder to think that the New York Times might ever put a flimsy or even false story against a Democrat, because Lord knows, that's never happened before....except, of course, in the case of multiple stories involving Bill and Hillary Clinton, Whitewater, John Dean, John Kerry, John Edwards, Barack Obama, etc. etc. etc.

but now it will be all our fault when the NYT does it because we weren't men of the world enough to understand that fucking is special. whatcha gonna do?

Posted by: as it unfolds on February 21, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

The New York Times is under pressure to increase profitability. Maybe they've looked at the success of gossip magazines and decided that they can sell more newspapers by emulating them.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 21, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Presumably they have in mind some higher moral purpose that is being served.

Hilarious. I believe the Times' higher moral purpose is all the news that's fit to print.

Posted by: Lucy on February 21, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

If not, why the holy outrage over McCain's behavior?

Because legislation that favored this particular lobbyist was up for a vote in the committee that McCain sat on.

You really, honestly don't see the problem in having a close personal relationship with someone who will benefit from your "yes" vote on a particular piece of legislation? There's no reason to be concerned that McCain was accepting non-sexual favors (like free private jet flights) from the company who would gain from the legislation he was voting for? Really?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on February 21, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think the important thing about this story is not the allegation that McCain went to bed with one particular lobbyist. It's that McCain has been in bed with lobbyists and the corporate interests they represent throughout his career, from the Keating Five days right up to the present day. He has repeatedly and egregiously violated the ethical standards that he has publicly pontificated about. He is totally corrupt and a flaming hypocrite.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 21, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

"McCain: "He let a corrupt lobbyist buy him a huge backyard"

Obama: "That sad old man will play hide the salami with any lobbyist under the age of 35"

Who will win a race to the bottom?"

Posted by: asdf on February 21, 2008

------

It's enough to make a person really really really really proud to be an American.

But, let us not forget, Obama is a Uniter Guy, not a divider guy, so none of this smear will stickto him. He's uh like a Teflon-coated Reagan, but not a waffling kiss-up to Republicans kind of Liberal. He's just all around swell. Here have some Cool-Aid.
.

Posted by: MarkH on February 21, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

From http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/21/mccain/index.html

McCain said in a news conference Thursday that he never had discussions with any staffers about an inappropriate relationship with Iseman. He also denied having a romantic relationship with her. If staffers had such concerns, McCain told reporters, they never conveyed them to him.

The New York Times quoted what it said were two admittedly "disillusioned" former McCain associates who said they approached the senator and the lobbyist about their concerns. "Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately," the newspaper reported.

McCain further described his relationship with Iseman as a friendship and said he had "seen her on occasion, particularly at receptions and fundraisers and appearances before the committee." Asked if he was closer to Iseman than he was other lobbyists, McCain flatly said no.

A lot of discrepencies there already.

A classic case of he said, she said in the first couple of paragraphs. His advisors say they approached him about their concerns and McCain says no one approached him.

Then McCain describes her as a friend, but no more so than any other lobbyist? Huh?

Posted by: Quinn on February 21, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Dude, I respect McCain for his duty to our country and his sacrifice as a POW. However, that's the extent of my respect for him. This guy had extramarital affairs in the past, which is why he is on his second marriage. The "mavrick" appearantly got sick of his first wife Carol after she lost her "hottness" as a result of severe bodily deformation due to a car accident. She went on to say "I attribute [the breakup of our marriage] more to John turning 40 and wanting to be 25 again than I do to anything else." WOW!

Posted by: Bono's Dog on February 21, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

We need to make sure that Barack Obama has a few more years in the senate. He needs to be seasoned. He needs experience. He needs to be seduced by lobbyists like Vicki Iseman, just like John McCain.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 21, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

I think this points to the fact that presidential candidates are taken by surprise at how much their personal life is disected by the news media, even when its a non-story. You would think that they would know this before jumping into the fray. It just means they have to "behave". God, how boring for them and us.

Posted by: leslie on February 21, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

It just means they have to "behave". God, how boring for them and us.

I take your point where sex between consenting adults is concerned, but I would truly love to be "bored" by not having to read about/see any more nepotism, corruption, special favors and other abuses of position by people we've entrusted with public office.

Posted by: shortstop on February 21, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

They provide nothing -- nothing -- that constitutes solid evidence that McCain had an affair.

The affair is a smokescreen designed to inoculate McCain against the corruption allegations. If you can convince people it's all about sex, they won't pay attention.

If, however, people realize that the issue is that McCain did favors for a lobbyist in exchange for favors like free plane rides from that lobbyist, that's a story with legs. The "affair" is a smokescreen and gives him plausible deniability.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on February 21, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

What a spectacle: undue influence, corruption, and McCain's towering hubris. His quips about hypocrisy aren't funny this time.

The central theme of McCain's life story, his downed naval aviator/POW experience, strikes me now as deeply ambiguous in light of this story. Everytime you look at the man, you can't help but see the torture and redemption cycle behind which he hides a compromised man

The angry smile, the loss of mobility, the reportedly nasty temper, and the rigid belief in his own integrity when it's clear he's just another senator trading favors under especially unseemly circumstances.

Those five and a half years in captivity made him and unmade him. And no one will write about the "unmaking" part of that ordeal.

I've worked through the entire NYT piece. Here at the end is something choice, quoting his memoir, after the reporters establish that McCain was "rebuked" ("drawing a rare rebuke") for interfering in a 1999 FCC approval process at the behest of Ms. Iseman.

Mr. McCain's aides released all of his letters to the F.C.C. to dispel accusations of favoritism, and aides to the campaign had properly accounted for four trips on the Paxson plane. But the campaign did not report the flight with Ms. Iseman. Mr. McCain's say he was not required to disclose the flight but ethics lawyers dispute that.

Now, here is McCain's account in his memoir. Note the tense and the disarmingly lofty obfusca--um, I mean, observation:

Recalling the Paxson episode in his memoir, Mr. McCain said he was merely trying to push along a slow-moving bureacracy, but added that he was not surprised by the criticism given his history [meaning Keating scandal.--ed. note]

"Any hint that I might have acted to reward a supporter," he wrote, "would be taken as an egregious act of hypocrisy."

Who ghost-wrote and then edited this sentence? Is the hint an egregious act of hypocrisy? Was his interference hypocritical? And what's with the "might have acted / would be taken" construction?

This is not straight talk.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 21, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I don't care so much about the affair part, but it does matter that McCain practices what he preaches regarding his dealings with lobbyists. There's much more to the article than a potential affair.

Posted by: PE on February 21, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Probably somebody already said this above, but the sex angle is just a hook. If the Times went with a sober, hard-hitting investigation of influence peddling, would the story have the MSM in a tizzy?

I'm ambivalent about the thinness of the Times's story but glad St. John is getting some scrutiny from the press for a change. I don't buy that this is a move by the Rulers to unify the Republican party. If people were listening to the gasbags in the media McCain wouldn't have been sailing to the nom in the first place. Weren't they pushing Mitt on behalf of their masters?

Posted by: Lucy on February 21, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Just saw this on the TPM McCain open thread. Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's Communication Director that is putting out his denials, has an eclectic relationship with the truth and blogs.

The New York Times wrote about it, A Blog Suspects That an Aide to Kean Posted Jabs at Menendez. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/21/nyregion/21blog.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

All the details are at bluejersey.com in this article, BUSTED: Why is the Kean-Jr. campaign lying to the media?
http://www.bluejersey.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid=0A26FAA5BB21D1D83C48ADE86CD4D4A0?diaryId=2557

Posted by: carolelynne on February 21, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

does anyone really believe that Ted Kennedy (or for that matter any of the Kennedys) in his merrier days refused to sleep with lobbyists?

I assume the "0" in your nym suggests your IQ, because you are an idiot. Typical of a rightard to bring up dems of 40+ years ago to highlight some imagined hypocrisy.

There is evidence, perhaps anecdotal at this point, but evidence nonetheless, that McCain went to bat for someone he is very close to. Whether she is a "friend" or a "special friend" is immaterial. Her relationship presents a conflict of interest for Mr. Straight Talk.

Feel free to come up with one shred of evidence that implicates Ted Kennedy thusly.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on February 21, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

The New York Times prints a story about an alleged John McCain affair that both sides deny, yet they are refusing to report about the Larry Sinclair story. Larry Sinclair is taking a polygraph test next week. Barack Obama is in for a world of trouble.

Posted by: lunar eclipse on February 21, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that McCain taking airplane rides from companies doing business before his committee will hurt him strikes me as naive. Giuliani blowing off the 9-11 Commission to get rich making speeches didn't particularly hurt him (his candidacy failed for different reasons). Republicans apparently can be as corrupt as they want (at least as presidential candidates). This will die down in a few days.

Posted by: Thomas Beck on February 21, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

lunar eclipse..

Curiousity made me look up Larry Sinclair where I found his youtube video. I'm going to put up one next week telling of how I rode on a spaceship with Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: PE on February 21, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

This is simply a story about hypocrisy and ethics. It goes to the heart of McCain's narrative - the ethical straight talker who bucks his own party and fights against special interests (reminds me of 'the silver knight' from Mr. Smith Goes To Washington). I thought the Times story used McCain's own words from his book with deadly effect - "questions of honor are raised as much by appearances as by reality in politics". And for those who say the Times has no direct evidence of an affair - the Times isn't saying "associates of McCain said John McCain had an affair". They're saying two former close associates of his thought his actions risked his campaign and that McCain acknowledged he acted innapropriately (which could mean that McCain didn't admit to an affair but realized the appearance of closeness to Iseman could lead people to think that there was an affair). And the Times corroborates the associates concern with the quote from Weaver saying that he met with Iseman to tell her to stay away from McCain. But affair or not, he still acted on her behalf as Chairman of the Commerece Committee, not exactly your most ethical stance. And although this was 8 years ago it is still relevant today, as is the Keating scandal because it goes to the 'character' issue.
Of course the republicans always say they win no matter what happens, but man they are having the tables turned on them in this election.

Posted by: James G on February 21, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Agree, JamesG. It works as a hypocrisy story, for me at least, and the backstory of the sex getting gutted from the piece (the newsroom politics) makes it even more interesting.

The "deadly effect" of McCain's words from his memoir, too, leapt out at me. He's always been able to have his cake (his adamantine POW integrity) and to eat it too (post-Keating redemption and legislation).

Posted by: paxr55 on February 21, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Curiousity made me look up Larry Sinclair where I found his youtube video. I'm going to put up one next week telling of how I rode on a spaceship with Hillary Clinton.

Be sure to put your teeth in before you record it. Old Larry's dearth of chompers made it hard to follow his story about his lim-oh-seen.

Posted by: shortstop on February 21, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Typical of a rightard"

He's not a rightard. He's a contraritard.

"Barack Obama is in for a world of trouble."

ROFL.... Yeah, right.... Everyone's just going to laugh at this.

Posted by: PaulB on February 21, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

The jokes just write themselves.

Did Big John let his little soldier do his thinking for him?

So that's how they keep a soldier in captivity.

Imagine John McCain naked . . . yuck, talk about bumping uglies. There goes the election. I said election you pervert.

Posted by: Tripp on February 21, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

"does anyone really believe that Ted Kennedy (or for that matter any of the Kennedys) in his merrier days refused to sleep with lobbyists?"

In the 60s there were only a few hundred lobbyists in Washington and probably exclusively male.

During the "merrier days" there were doubtless other opportunities but not with lobbyists. By the time Washington became infected with huge numbers of lobbyists (some of them female) Ted Kennedy was a few years past the 'merrier days.'

Fooling around, although upsetting to many, is not apt to effect performance of public responsibility unless it's with someone whose business directly effects public policy decisions and actions.

Posted by: cal1942 on February 21, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Considering how haggard she looks" - Anon. This may sound mean but Anon is right on this superficial level. I can see some rightwing pundit (hmmm - Rush Limbaugh won't be the one) playing her "haggard" looks as a reason to dismiss the notion that there was any affair. Then again - I can recall a Clinton defender saying Bill couldn't have done Monica because he was chunky."

This all happened 9 years ago putting Ms. Iseman in her 30s. That can be a helluva difference.

Then again, maybe this is all an attempt to deflect doubts about McCain due to his age; hoping that people will forget that he was 62 at the time not 71.

Posted by: cal1942 on February 21, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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