Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 21, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

TNR ON L'AFFAIR McCAIN....Gabriel Sherman's TNR piece about the internal struggles at the New York Times over publication of last night's story about John McCain's non-affair with telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman is now up:

The publication of the article capped three months of intense internal deliberations at the Times over whether to publish the negative piece and its most explosive charge about the affair. It pitted the reporters investigating the story, who believed they had nailed it, against executive editor Bill Keller, who believed they hadn't.

....By late December, the reporters had submitted several pages of written questions to [McCain lawyer Bob] Bennett for comment, and completed a draft of the piece before the New Year. But to their growing frustration, Keller ordered rounds of changes and additional reporting. According to Times sources, [Washington bureau chief Dean] Baquet remained an advocate for his reporters and pushed the piece to be published, but sources say Keller wanted a more nuanced story looking less at personal matters and more at questions of Iseman's lobbying and McCain's legislative record.

....In mid-January, Keller told the reporters to significantly recast the piece after several drafts had circulated among editors in Washington and New York. After three different versions, the piece ended up not as a stand-alone investigation but as an entry in the paper's "The Long Run" series looking at presidential candidates' career histories.

If anything, this makes the whole episode even more puzzling. The four reporters on this piece thought they had "nailed it"? Reasonable people can differ on whether they had enough to hang a story on, but there's no way that they "nailed" anything. And what made Keller change his mind? Adding a couple thousand words about the lobbying aspect of this episode did exactly nothing to take attention away from the bombshell innuendo that McCain was having an "inappropriate" relationship with Vicki Iseman — and the reporting on that central assertion doesn't seem to have changed much since late December.

Mysteriouser and mysteriouser. Sometimes stories like this get printed in hopes that they'll kick over some stones and prompt other sources to come forward, and maybe that's what happened here. Stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 1:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (126)

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Comments

Don't see why you're objecting to the "nail it" comments, Kev. The reporters probably DID think that, and they were talking about their initial story, not what got lawyered out and Kellered out.

For all we know, maybe they DID nail it, or come a lot closer than the "on the one hand, shit in the other hand" story that actually ran.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

The Washington Post piece is more damning, in my view. It focuses on Ms. Iseman and how she rose from secretary to partner within a few years. She reportedly repeatedly bragged to other telecom lobbyists about her relationship with Senator McCain.

Is it common for secretaries to become partners within a short period of time?

Posted by: PE on February 21, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

It seems likely that a lot of content was redacted from the piece, as SocraticGadfly suggests.

Posted by: Ruck on February 21, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Gadfly is right. We have no idea what the reporters initially wrote. My guess is the initial story was a lot stronger than the gutted version Keller published last night.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 21, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, my direct observation of elected officials at McCain's level is that if one of them did appear to be in danger of suffering political damage from the statements of some lobbyist, the situation would be handled the way it was reported to be handled in this case -- by staff.

It is understood in Washington that part of the staff's job is to protect the boss: not from getting arrested or jeopardizing national security, but from appearances that might damage him politically. A lobbyist who is bragging about her access to and influence over a Senator is a problem, even if it is just bragging (this is one reason why, traditionally, the best lobbyists have been very discreet). A Senator could always cut the lobbyist off personally, but more often staff are directed to address the situation. Longtime staffers who know their boss well enough sometimes address the situation without direction.

In McCain's case, whether this story turns out to have legs will depend on whether any of the things it hints at -- that Iseman's clients got undue favors because of her access to him or there was some kind of personal relationship between the two of them -- later turn out to be based in fact. If they do, this is a very bad story for McCain; if they don't, it's just a story about staff dealing with an appearance problem eight years ago.

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

PE, I think not. No wonder her company jumped on the Times even harder than McCain. Given what seems clear, she probably was diddling somebody at the office after she got done with the Schmuck Talk Express.

Ruck and CJ, my feelings on Kelleritis on this piece are even clearer now that I just got done with Sherman's TNR piece.

Dean Baquet, from his effort to stand up for the LA Times newsroom (and Kev, I KNOW you're familiar with that), is not a tabloid-type editor, but WILL stand behind real news work.

I'll agree with Pat Buchanan's guess that somebody from the Times probably leaked to Drudge in December. Here's hoping whoever that was does some more leaking.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Reasonable people can differ on whether they had enough to hang a story on, but there's no way that they "nailed" anything."

Uhh, wait: the reporters thought they nailed it in the original story, which the editor rejected. I don't see how you can take what finally got published as proof that they didn't nail it in the original story. I also don't see how you don't get this out of the account above. I don't mean that to be as mean as it sounds, but relying on the rewritten account to determine that they didn't nail it in the original account is a head scratcher.

Posted by: URK on February 21, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I did not have sex with that woman.

Posted by: John McCain on February 21, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Well at least the NYT didn't sit on the story until after the election, like they tried to with the warrantless wiretapping scandals.

Posted by: Ed in Montana on February 21, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, what a fool the liberal media is. Didn't the liberal media try this hit job on Bush with Dan Rather's national guard story? The result is going to be no different with McCain. The allegations are going to be disproved, and the American people are going to support in droves John Mccain and his wonderful wife Cindy. Watch me laugh as all of you fail miserably in smearing a conservative. Again.

Posted by: Al on February 21, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I can see the sculptor now chiseling the phrase "The New York Times--All The News At A Time That Doesn't Adversely Impact Our Publisher's Friends."

Posted by: corpus juris on February 21, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I put this "story" about where I put the Obama "plagarism" one - firmly in the "meh" pile.

It's the press talking to themselves. In the 24-hour news cycle, they're constantly looking for titillation. (Hence the overabundance of coverage on Ms. Spears.) I guess they thought it'd work.
It doesn't.

John McCain has shown poor judgement on Iraq, on S&Ls, on abortion, on drug policy and on tax policy. That's why I don't support his candidacy.

This? Yawn.

Posted by: Cazart on February 21, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I will very reluctantly have to agree with the sense of Al's post-- the simplest explanation is that this was an effort by the supporters of McCain to create a Dan Rather type of situation.

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

Why does this always happen? A story is run that is potentially damaging to a Republican and instead of focusing on the real issue (McCain's ties to lobbyists) the story becomes the sexual innuendo and the "liberal media" which means the real issue gets ignored and it turns out, as Al says, actually helps the Republican.

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

It remains unclear why the paper sat on the story since December. But whether or not the New York Times has had the goods on John McCain, it didn't stop them from endorsing him in the state's Republican primary last month.

For the details, see:
"NY Times Endorsed McCain Before Running Scandal Piece."

Posted by: AngryOne on February 21, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know...if four NYT reporters thought they'd nailed it, I'll be looking for futher details to surface down the pike.

At least this story knocked Michelle Obama off the box.

Posted by: Lucy on February 21, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

NY Times reports on John McCain affair that both sides deny? Why don't they report on the Larry Sinclair story? Larry Sinclair is taking a polygraph test next week. His story is only going to get bigger and can't be ignored any longer.

Posted by: lunar eclipse on February 21, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I will very reluctantly have to agree with the sense of Al's post-- the simplest explanation is that this was an effort by the supporters of McCain to create a Dan Rather type of situation.

I find it very hard to believe this story is a plant. It has the potential to backfire in a big way, just to risky to try...

Posted by: elmo on February 21, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Republicans, they have some serious peccadilloes:

Bush a no-show National Guardsman.
McCain's dalliance with a lobbyist.

I always go with the Cheney Doctrine: If there's a one percent chance that something is true, then, by God, it's true!

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on February 21, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

The funny thing about this story is that both legs of it have historical precedent. We know that McCain has been willing to do untoward favors for big donors in the past from the Keating Five scandal, and we know he had at least one affair while he was still married to his first wife.

So although this story is about a previously unreported situation, it fits in perfectly with McCain's record.

Posted by: Boots Day on February 21, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

I do think they nailed it, even in the published version.

Even if McCain didn't have an affair with Iseman, the reporters have three sources, one of whom is identified and on the record, saying that he had a personal relationship with a lobbyist that was so close that there was a major effort within his organization to keep them apart. Furthermore, they seem to be on pretty solid ground on the observation that McCain did a fair amount to help out Iseman's client. Finally, they do a good job of placing these episodes in a decades-long context of McCain doing favors for supporters, courting lobbyists as contributors and supporters, and generally acting like a standard influence-peddling Washington politician.

Within all of this context, whether or not he was having an affair becomes somewhat beside the point, so I don't see why anyone should judge the success or failure of the article based on whether or not it proves that McCain and Iseman were sleeping together.

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

The NY Times continually buckles to conservative pressure. The editorial posture that remains resembles nothing close to "objectivity".

They may THINK they're objective, but what they are is afraid of upsetting the conservatives. So even if they manage to get some that shines a poor light on conservatives past their internal censors, it comes out completely milquetoasted.

Conservatives again trot out their "Librul New York Times!" epithet; wash hands, repeat.

The thing to do is to STOP DEFENDING THE NEW YORK TIMES. Don't reply that they aren't liberal. ("The so-called liberal media".) You're fighting on the wrong ground.

Attack them for carrying conservative water! They sat on the FISA story until safely after the election! They sat on this story until it got utterly lawyered by McCain's attoney! They freaking ENDORSED McCain!

Posted by: anonymous on February 21, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Lunar Eclipse: Read the story language. NEITHER SIDE denied anything. Instead, they just got angry, without any specifics. Pull your head out.

Al, even for you, that's a weak post.

Marc: The sexual angle is legit; McCain's pandering to the Religious Right again. Interesting that Huck is saying, for public consumption, I believe McCain, but isn't going out of his way to blast the "liberal New York Times."

Boots, Exactly! Schmuck Talk has both Keating Five and wife-cheating precedents; now the two unite.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Poor Mitt. He's the one who should be really pissed off at Keller. You'd almost think Keller was stuffing this story just long enough for Big John's Republican opponents to go away.

Posted by: wren on February 21, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Another election and it looks like the good 'ol liberal smear factory is charged up and ready to go. Of course their front man Obama will claim he is against smear tactics - but the MSM will work for him so he never has to appear partisan and can fool his mindless supporters into thinking he is for a different kind of politics.

Intellectual lefties will not admit it but,
NYT -> Dems as
Talk Radio -> Repubs.

Problem is NYT is supposed to be news. Talk Radio acknowledges that it is opinion. Liberals are such hypocrites I am so glad I am not one.

Let's both try to clean up our act this election and center on the real issues maybe. OK.

Posted by: John Hansen on February 21, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

From the conservative perspective, having unified, bipartisan attacks against the Times for running this piece serves to "Rathergate" the paper and tell all other publications not to touch it for fear of branding them smear artists.

Posted by: Memekiller on February 21, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Sean does have a point, but most of us who have been following John McCain's public actions have known for a long time that he does favors for supporters, courts lobbyists as contributors and supporters, and generally acts like a standard influence-peddling Washington politician. Of course, the truth might be brand new for a lot of folks, especially members of the mainstream media who have ridden the "Straight Talk Express" and have been utterly seduced by the man.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 21, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

John Hanson:

It definitely qualifies as news if three staffers from St. Mac's 2000 campaign claim what they have claimed.

NYT is a good punching bag for the conservatives, but it almost always lives up to its reputation of being a good newspaper. Definitely better than the rags that the Tribune puts out.

Posted by: gregor on February 21, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that you can confuse the content in the New York Times with talk radio is why we're happy you're not a liberal, either.

Posted by: Sean on February 21, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Marcy Wheeler has some insights on who Iseman was working for. Remember Sinclair broadcasting?

http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2008/02/21/did-vicki-iseman-steal-honor-in-three-presidential-elections/

Posted by: bling on February 21, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Let's both try to clean up our act this election and center on the real issues maybe. OK.

Influence peddling is a real issue.

And we dance in celebration that you are not a liberal every time you foul the threads here with your inane conservatroll apologist blather.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 21, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

If you are confused about why the reporters thought that they had it nailed, look at a phrase that made it into the piece

Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman.

Given that extent to which editors and NYT and McCain lawyers went over this piece (I find it hard to believe that NYT lawyers examine every article in the paper before publication), the survival of that statement is rather telling. This wasn't just any article and that sentence is there because the reporters could back it up to the satisfaction of all editors and to the lawyers on both sides.

Posted by: rk on February 21, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wren: Mitt, or Mitt's campaign, IS pissed this story broke late.

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/02/mccain_comments_distort_fcc_ma.php

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Damn. I meant to say that I love how wingnuts want to make nice when they are on the ropes.

No thanks. You lot need to spit teeth, bleed, and wear the scars, hell spend a few decades self-flagellating in the forest, wearing sackcloth and ashes, and show some real god-damned contrition for the mess you idiots have made, before we will ever trust you war criminals and fools, ever again.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 21, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, my bare naked URL above is not about Mitt's campaign, but actually the link for:

McCain presser denial on FCC issues

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, a bit OT... Kevin, do we need to call the grammar police?

"Mysteriouser"? C'mon, bro. And, it's not a grammar breaking that adds anything to the narrative.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Gadfly is right. We have no idea what the reporters initially wrote. My guess is the initial story was a lot stronger than the gutted version Keller published last night. Posted by: corpus juris

I concur. It's pretty damning when the reporters send questions to McCain's lawyers and they answer them in such a way that convinces the reporters' that their version of things is correct.

McCain only had a ghost of a chance of winning the election. Now it won't even be close. The wingnuts don't like him, the "religious" right doesn't like him. If you figure that's 30-50% of the Republican faithful, which make up only about 15-20% of American voters anyway, he'll be the Bob Dole for the new millennium.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 21, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I couldn't give a sh** if McCain had an affair eight years ago, or yesterday. But it does matter if McCain did favors for a lobbyist he was having an affair with. If the original reporting focussed on the affair, and Keller made them work till they had fleshed out the conflict of interest angle, then he did exactly right.

Posted by: MarkedMan on February 21, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Mysteriouser and mysteriouser.

It's OK if Lewis Carroll said it first.

Posted by: Grammar Police on February 21, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, this could be your winning entry in "weakest post of the week." It certainly has my vote as the worst since the "I'm not hellbent on telco immunity."

Previously, I would have named the Sunday post on Susan Jacoby and the dumbing of America, even if, as a skeptical left-liberal, I was in the minority in thinking you're wrong on that.

Oh, BTW, Kevin, any post of yours that favorably links to Brad DeLong is automatically in the running for "weakest post of the week."

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

Agree with Socratic Gadfly et al. in light of the TNR piece especially, which I've just read. You've got four WDC reporters and Dean Baquet up against Keller in NY holding out for a corruption-not-sex story, apparently squeamish about the blond lobbyist angle for reasons that escape me.

McCain/Bennett mau-mau Keller into gutting the sex part of the story which we are told the WDC bureau felt was solid enough to run. Under pressure from TNR, eventually, the NYT runs the sanitized piece along the lines Keller wanted. This after having endorsed the man, btw. What's up with that?

One of the reporters--Thompson--quits the Times to return to the Post, this after a McCain beat reporter quit, apparently fed up with the Times's sitting on the story, rumors of which he couldn't even report.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 21, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I knew the Mittsters were pissed. My real question is whether or not Keller and the Times slowed the release of the story until after Mac got the nomination. When they endorsed him, the Times had the fully nailed story right in front of them. But they endorsed him none the less. If Keller is taking questions I would ask...knowing what you know now would the NYT still endorse MCCain in the NY Primary?

Posted by: wren on February 21, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Grammar Police, Lewis Carroll had poetic license. I hardly think a political blog qualifies. Unless we're in a Jabberwocky-type hunt for the McCain-Iserman sex tapes.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't have quite the same ring as when I invented (so clever! so original!) the term "l'Affaire Lewinsky" that others then imitated.

How about "la Mésalliance McCain"?

Posted by: Anon on February 21, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's OK if Lewis Carroll said it first.

Exactly. Gadfly missed the Carroll reference.

Posted by: shortstop on February 21, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's as I said - journos gossiping among themselves.

But now that I've dug further, it's actually interesting!

In 1930's radio voice:

"WHY did the NYT publish now? WHAT ELSE do they think they know?"

"WHO leaked to Drudge?"

"WHY did McCain hire Bob Bennett?"

"WHO is the mysterious EllaLohan?"

From a strict media-watching pov, it's kinda fun.
And the story does shine some light on the real McCain, not his brand.

Posted by: notellalohan on February 21, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Wren, good point. I'm guessing that the NYT op-ed structure has Keller on the editorial board for endorsement interviews, endorsements, etc. (I'm a newspaper editor, but never at a paper of nearly that size; so this is my semi-insider guesstimate.)

I would guess that Keller had his cards close enough to the vest that nobody else on the editorial board knew what was up. Prolly nobody had read the WaPost story in December or seen any blog linkage to the Drudge piece at that time. And, as we see most often and most spectacularly at the WSJ, major dailies can sometimes have huge disconnects between newshole staff and op-ed writers.

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

Gadfly,

Literary allusions are OK with me.

Unless we're in a Jabberwocky-type hunt for the McCain-Iserman sex tapes.

That certainly sounds marvelous.

Posted by: Grammar Police on February 21, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Not Ella: I've already noted on my blog the importance of Schmuck Talk hiring Bob Bennett. You just don't do that unless some real shit is up. So, wingers who claim this is all smoke, if they know inside Washington, know there's plenty of fire.

Who leaked to Drudge? One of the four reporters, most likely. Keller was already sitting on his hands and somebody was pushing. May not have been a direct leak. One of the NYT writers could have leaked to somebody on the politics beat at the WaPost, hoping that it being made known to Drudge, and a tidbit for a competitive paper would push Keller to get off his ass.

Grammar Police/Shortstop... I would have caught the Lewis Carroll ref with a bit more context; as is, Kev dumped it kind of blindly, with no lead-in.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

How about "la Mésalliance McCain"?

Le nepotisme-iseman?

Posted by: shortstop on February 21, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

The key meme from the Right: Why did the Times unload this just after McCain became the evident presumptive nominee? Others wonder (liberals or open-news promoters), why did they wait so long?

Posted by: Neil B. on February 21, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

If anything, this makes the whole episode even more puzzling. The four reporters on this piece thought they had "nailed it"? Reasonable people can differ on whether they had enough to hang a story on, but there's no way that they "nailed" anything.

Gee, Kevin, I guess you are right. It is perfectly normal for a married Senator's advisers to be flipping out about him hanging out with a young lobbyist way too much. Senators' advisors are, after all, notorious for kicking over their Senator's reputation by getting upset over nothing at all.

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

I was getting pretty cynical for a while there about politics, but now I am back down to Earth. Thanks, Kevin.

Posted by: Swan on February 21, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm from another planet?, but the possibility of a sexual relationship is not as big a deal as government favors to a lobbyist based on any kind of personal relationship (sexual or otherwise) and poor personal ethical judgment.

Especially from the 'straight-talk express' himself...

After all, McCain remarried one month after divorcing his first wife and as far as I know it was generally known he was having an affair with his second wife before the divorce. So if there was a relationship it shouldn't be a huge surprise.

Maybe at least this will prevent the press (including NPR) from parroting how upstanding John is, and actually look as his entire blemished record. If he can still win with those blemishes exposed than more power to him - but need to expose all the candidates blemishes, not just the Dems.

It is hilarious watching all the cons trip over each other criticizing the newspaper that broke a much less significant Whitewater story and ran it on the front page for two+ years...

Posted by: brian on February 21, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Now I have it figured out: they were probably just very, very, very good friends, like in the "My Buddy and Me" toy commercial they used to run on TV years ago.

McCain was like a non-employer, opposite-sex mentor, who totally inexplicably described his relationship with Iseman as "behaving inappropriately."

Kev, did some Republican bully walk up to you and dunk your head in a toilet bowl until you agree to write this post?

Posted by: Swan on February 21, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

After all, McCain remarried one month after divorcing his first wife and as far as I know it was generally known he was having an affair with his second wife before the divorce. So if there was a relationship it shouldn't be a huge surprise.

Not only was it generally known, McCain himself admitted it in his autobiography.

Posted by: Stefan on February 21, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Brian, given that, after years of mutual antagonism, McCain has been sucking up to the Religious Right since the start of his presidential campaign, and the RR has a strong focus on sexual issues, I think the sex side is as relevant, in a different way, as the FCC interference, etc.

That's why Mitt's mad. And, unlike Huckabee saying "I believe McCain because he's a man of character," Mitt would be doing something with this.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, go look at TPM's screen capture of CNN coverage of McCain's pressure.

Does Cindy McCain have the look of death, daggers in the eyes, choose your metaphor?

Hope you got a king-sized doghouse at home, Schmuck Talk.

And, as for you, Cindy, per your history, live by the male sword, die by the male sword.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Ah yes, lets talk about re-casting stories because, at first TNR was going to be the one to "drop the bombshell" about the affair, but now, the stories all about WHY the NYT didn't "nail it" before printing it.

I guess it was just a bad joke played at the expense of NYT. How dare they say ANYTHING negative about Republicans, those paritsan news people. BUT nothing EVER gets said by a truly partisan rag call the Washington Post. You can trash Dems but not Repugs. People like Kevin make damn sure of that.

Kevin does this over and over and over again.

Fuss up Kevin, you're no Democrat, you're a Republician, posing as a Dem, in order to trash Dems. It's the very same scenario the TNR is doing, the whole reason the dying pub keeps right on publishing it's trash, no money need to be made, it only has one objective, owned by Repugs that went looking for Dems willing to trash Dems. A Karl Rove side-kick gimmick for liberals.

Kevin doesn't know if the journalist at NYT "nail it" or not because Kevin doesn't know what evidence the journalist at NYT have in their possession, but, of course that doesn't stop him from trashing those journalist.

The biggest loser at NYT is Keller, the guy let Judith Miller write stuff she certainly NEVER nail, but Kevin never worried about any of that and defended Miller's need for a sheild law to the present moment. Miller never, ever "nail it" anything and Kevin Drum never spent a monent trashing her for it.

Kevin Drum - you're not a liberal, just a Republican carrying a Dem voting card.

Posted by: me-again on February 21, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever the original story that Keller rejected is, there is no way that the evidence in it "nailed" the fact of the affair down. It is simply unbelievable that last night's story has less actual evidence of the affair than the first one. One would have to believe Keller objected to the printing of real evidence of the affair rather than the printing of the suspicion of the affair itself. Such a position is laughable on its face.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 21, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

me-again: "Kevin Drum - you're not a liberal, just a Republican carrying a Dem voting card."

And when they made your type of Democrat, they thankfully broke the cookie-cutter. Just who exactly are you, that you feel so qualified to judge who's a good Democrat and who isn't?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 21, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I know Gadfly. There is a reason his speculations seem authentic. He really is a newspaper editor. He has put up a nice post summarizing his thoughts at WTWC.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 21, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Wow...more than two hundred comments associated with the two posts today concerning McCain and his lobbyist pal.

Eight on elections in Iraq. Just sayin'.

Posted by: JM on February 21, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

JM,

You are right. In addition there is nothing about Michelle Obama. Cindy McCain seems to be preoccupied by a real news story. The press canceled the scheduled mud wrestling match.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 21, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

brian, above, is right. There was NOTHING in the Whitewater story, and neither right-wingers nor The Times have ever apologized or even admitted to the vacancy. The Times McCain story is certainly a satin pillow of innuendo wrapped around McCain's casual personal and business methods. Whether McCain and Iseman were having sex is pretty much irrelevant to the picture of a man in love with his story of his own rectitude.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 21, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

While the NYT seems to have been motivated primarily by the desire to destroy McCain's candidacy after first helping him to drive more conservative candidates from the field, it appears that their hatchet job may in the end benefit McCain more than hurt him. This smear job has done a far better job of uniting conservatives behind McCain than anything he could do or say. And by November, no one will remember that the Times insinuated that he had an affair with a lobbyist.

Posted by: DBL on February 21, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

a far better job of uniting conservatives behind McCain

And you think that's an accident? Welcome to the Hundred Years' War. Great for newspaper sales, eh?

Posted by: thersites on February 21, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

DBL, "smear job"? Nice to see you graduated from crayons to two-finger typing.

After November, he can cut a Viagra commercial with Dole.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

I have nothing to add to this discussion, but I did see McCain's press conference where his wife appeared at his side...she's one scary looking woman.

Posted by: Bob on February 21, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

JD - I assume when you say there was "nothing" to the Whitewater story, you mean that there was no compelling evidence that the Clintons knowingly participated in the Whitewater savings-and-loan fraud for which several other people were convicted, rather than just being innocent dupes of the scamsters. That is true. I do wonder, however, what Susan MacDonald would have said had she testified - you recall, I hope, that she adhered to her oath of omerta and went to jail rather than testify.

Posted by: DBL on February 21, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

This smear job has done a far better job of uniting conservatives behind McCain than anything he could do or say. And by November, no one will remember that the Times insinuated that he had an affair with a lobbyist. Posted by: DBL

The story may indeed rally conservatives. But as conservatives (aka wingnuts) make up a very small minority of American voters, it won't help him much. And if the story gets as much traction as I think it will, you'll see the "religious" right even more put off by the likely Rethug nominee.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 21, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

And BTW who cares whether he's humping the woman or not? What's Senator Saint doing on a private plane with a lobbyist, even if she was a he and looked like Dr. Funkenstein?

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

Gentlemen,

You should get out more. Talk to some normal people, who aren't obsessed with politics. All they are getting out of this story is that the Times claims McCain had an affair with a lobbyist, but there's no evidence of that, and they both deny it. By November no one will remember or care.

Posted by: DBL on February 21, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

DBL you are spot on. Obama needed those rightwing swing voters. Now McCain gets ALL the independents and all the conservatives (economic, religious, social and otherwise). I'm guessing Huck is on a plane right now set to endorse McCain. Obama hasn't got a chance. But don't forget, Monica didn't end up hurting Bill Clinton just Al Gore. Look for the blowback in 2012 or 2016.

Posted by: wren on February 21, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites: As I previously posted, given McCain's new pandering to the Religious Right, the sex story by itself is relevant.

And, speaking of such... where was Larry Flynt? Or maybe HE has more to spill.

Once again, to use the British English, the people who get their knickers in a knot about sex bring this on themselves.

Sidebar No. 2 -- let's not be so harsh on "me-again." I halfway agree with him myself. I've been pushing Kevin by e-mail for some time to talk about vouchers as part of discussing the shortcoming of both Obama's and Clinton's healthcare plans. So far, not a peep.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK
The key meme from the Right: Why did the Times unload this just after McCain became the evident presumptive nominee? Others wonder (liberals or open-news promoters), why did they wait so long?

I'll just point out that its breaking at just the right time to distract attention from McCain's to-do with the FEC over whether or not he has withdrawn (or can withdraw) from the public financing system. If it turns out that this story doesn't go much of anywhere but stays active just long enough for McCain to secure a favorable resolution from the FEC without any attention to the details, it will have been mighty convenient for him.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 21, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Ladies and jellybeans, DBL.

QED.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 21, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

While DBL seems to be motivated primarily by the desire to spew meaningless garbage after first appropriating pathetic talking points from mindless conservative websites, it appears that his on the knees work may in the end benefit everyone except McCain. His smear job does a far better job of illuminating the sad meaninglessness of conservatism and conservatives behind McCain more than anything he could do or say. And by November, no one will remember that DBL's broken winged buzzing took a feckless passing swipe at all things not explainable by third-grade reasoning.

Posted by: Conrad's Ghost on February 21, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

DBL

You are so right, by November all the average voter will remember about the story is that McCain had sex with a lobbyist. You got us there.

Posted by: Corpus Juris on February 21, 2008 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

The story may indeed rally conservatives.

The NY Times story may inspire neo-conservatives to support McCain, but not values conservatives. This story will keep millions of bible belters from the polls, and may even breath new life into Huckabee's campaign. I expected Huckabee to win the Texas primary before this story broke, now I expect Huck to win overwhelmingly.

At the very least, now McCain has to seriously consider Huckabee as a running mate. That is not especially good news.

Posted by: Brojo on February 21, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

That is true. I do wonder, however, what Susan MacDonald [sic] would have said had she testified - you recall, I hope, that she adhered to her oath of omerta and went to jail rather than testify.

Oh, if only we had a first-hand account by Susan MacDougal so we could know! Oh, wait, we do:

"The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk: Why I Refused to Testify Against the Clintons & What I Learned in Jail" by Susan McDougal and Pat Harris

And from an interview McDougal gave:

BUZZFLASH: The title of your book is The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk....Why didn't you give Kenneth Starr what he wanted?

SUSAN MCDOUGAL: That is really the entire book. It's one reason I wrote the book is it's so hard to explain in a short, pithy way -- you know, for television newscasts.

I met with the Independent Counsel's office for the first time when I got my first subpoena. And I went with the hope that they would ask me questions, and I would answer them, and I would be able to shed light on what I thought was an honest investigation. Buy when I got to the first meeting, they were not interested in asking me any questions -- they told me that was not what the meeting was about. Even though they had never met me before, they said that they would trade global immunity for a proffer against the target of their investigation, Bill and Hillary Clinton.

I told them then that I didn't know anything that I could give them in a proffer. I didn't say, "Oh, gosh, I would never say anything bad about the Clintons." Or, "I'm the Clintons' friend." Or anything like that. I said, "Look, I don't know anything they've done that's illegal. I can't help you there."

So the pressure escalated, and they started to threaten me and told me that they would prosecute me and they would put me in jail.

....I was not going to give them a lie. So I decided I would go to trial, and I'd be found innocent.

....Well, let me just tell you, I believe to this day that they knew that the charges that they were trying to prove against the Clintons were not true. I think that they knew all along that the story David Hale had told them -- that Clinton had come to him and told him he wanted to borrow $300,000, but he couldn't have his name on the document, so Susan McDougal should come and sign the documents and give him the money -- was not true.....

BUZZFLASH: You described in your book, if I recall, that you were kind of surprised, because you'd been told usually the way they go after "big fish" is to get the little ones to rat on bigger ones. In this case, the big fish, in terms of criminal conduct, was the chief witness for the prosecution or for the Independent Counsel in this case.

MCDOUGAL: There were no big fish to them except Bill Clinton.

BUZZFLASH: And yet in the case they claimed to be pursuing, really David Hale was the big fish. But he ended up being their chief witness.

MCDOUGAL: Yeah, he was. He was the guy. Yeah, he was the biggest criminal of all, and he got less time than anybody. I was starting to really feel like these were a bunch of people who are not caring at all what the truth is. They can see who their witnesses are. So I was getting angrier and angrier. Then they convicted me, and man, I was like there is no way these people believe that I'm guilty. There was no evidence against me at all except the word of David Hale.

www.buzzflash.com/interviews/03/02/14_McDougal.html

Posted by: Stefan on February 21, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

At least this story knocked Michelle Obama off the box.

Thank god. Now if there was only some way to keep her off the box.

Posted by: Econobuzz on February 21, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

CmDicely: What you're saying is, since the opt-out/opt-in on public financing hinges on a loan technically made to McCain's campaign, this:

John McCain needs to have sex with a campaign staffer of his and then intervene with the FCC on behalf of his campaign.

What a brilliant idea!

Brojo: Good point. As I am in the Bible Belt, and specifically in the now-being-fought primary state of Texas, I am indeed curious what is going to happen to Schmuck Talk's polling here.

As for the local MSM, The Dallas Morning News ran the NYT story straight up, but buried it on A14 without a P1 teaser.

I'll try to remember to watch local network news to see where it plays, or go to a website or two right now.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Was that interview given under oath? Oh, I guess not. In any event, if she asserted her 5th amendment right not to incriminate herself, they could have forced her to testify by offering her immunity. I can't recall but isn't that what they did? Wasn't the reason she was sent to jail because she refused to testify notwithstanding the grant of immunity? What possible reason could she have for not testifying in those circumstances except to protect someone? Even the interview you so helpfully excerpt doesn't explain that.

Posted by: DBL on February 21, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I did see McCain's press conference where his wife appeared at his side...she's one scary looking woman

St. John should rent a copy of "Basic Instinct" and watch the last scene.

Better check under the bed every night, Johnny Boy.

Posted by: Econobuzz on February 21, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think this was a dumb thing for the New York Times to run if they're trying to help ensure that a Democrat gets elected.

John McCain - despite what the national polls say now - is I believe not a strong candidate (even if he might have been in 1992 or 1996 [he may even have run back then were it not for the Keating thing]) and anything that might lead to his stepping aside and the possibility that GOP elites get to hand pick a much stronger nominee is bad if you're a Democrat.

Maybe I should've bought those Giuliani shares after all.

PS If this has legs it's classic sex+ stuff. If Monica had been a lobbyist or working for one of those Asian guys who slept in the Lincoln bedroom it would have been the end of him.

Posted by: Linus on February 21, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

McCain and the FCC

....the McCain campaign has responded at length to the New York Times story, and the statement strives to beat back any impression that McCain had given any undue consideration to clients from Vicki Iseman's firm, Alcalde and Fay -- in this case, Paxson Communications, which was seeking the FCC's approval of a deal.
The statement goes out of its way to claim that no one from Alcalde and Fay had ever "personally asked" McCain to send the letter....There are a couple things wrong with that. For one, the lawyer who represented opponents of the deal told The Boston Globe back in 2000 that McCain's letter was " improper, unethical, violated FCC rules barring such contacts on pending FCC matters, and appeared designed to assist a major contributor." ...
As for the Paxson letter, McCain's aides confirmed that he had written the missive at the request of Alcalde & Fay, the Washington lobbying firm retained by Paxson....


McCain staff exits
…McCain fired his campaign manager this morning, prompting his longtime chief strategist to resign. Soon after, McCain's chief of staff of 18 years followed the two out the door.
Terry Nelson, an Iowan who had been a top operative in the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, was forced out, reportedly at the urging of Davis. With Nelson gone, John Weaver, McCain's closest political adviser going back to the 2000 campaign and a sometimes Davis rival, tendered his resignation. Weaver's move then spurred Mark Salter, perhaps the closest personally of any staffer to McCain and the co-author of all his books, to also resign his post as campaign COO…


Posted by: Mike on February 21, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

DBL

What part of Susan McDougal wouldn't lie for Ken Starr don't you want to believe. If she had any evidence that they did anything wrong she would have thrown the Clintons over in a heartbeat.

She just refused to commit perjury to advance the crazy Mellon/Starr efforts to get the Clintons. A lot of folks (more than 1/2 of the country it would seem) believed her. Only wingnuts with serious cases of CDS think the way you do. I would suggest you get treatment. I would also suggest that you drop the "ends justifies the means" thinking that is at the bottom of everything neocons seem to be about this last 20 years. It is time that we all became Americans again and real Americans believe in honor before smear.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 21, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

The untapped source who will bring this story together: Felix Bonehammer. Mark my words.

Posted by: Edsbowlingshoe on February 21, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

DBL,

Don't be a dingbat. Two investigations and a gazillion taxpayer dollars later, the Clintons were cleared of any wrongdoing. Whitewater is over. Let it go.

Posted by: Lucy on February 21, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK
GOP elites get to hand pick a much stronger nominee

Who? There ain't no stars on the GOP bench. The "great hope" given the lackluster initial field was Fred Thompson, and look how that turned out. McCain might not be a great candidate (though I would dismiss him), but I think he's pretty clearly the best the GOP has available.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 21, 2008 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Wasn't the reason she was sent to jail because she refused to testify notwithstanding the grant of immunity?"

No. She was sent to jail because she refused to lie. She told him she had nothing to say; he didn't believe her and he sent her to jail.

Posted by: PaulB on February 21, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Econobuzz: Now if there was only some way to keep [M. Obama] off the box.

Hopefully, by now someone will have explained to her: there are some things you just don't say out loud, even if they're true, if your spouse is running for political office. Even relatively honest politicians have to live by this rule.

Posted by: thersites on February 21, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

"You should get out more."

ROFL... Oh, the irony... Dear heart, you really should practice what you preach. People like McCain *always* deny affairs. Everyone knows this and, mostly, they don't believe the denials.

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

From my blog, following up on my comment above to CmDicely:

We need John McCain and one campaign staffer (presumably female) …
For a special appearance before the Federal Elections Commission.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, wrong URL in the hyperlink above. Try this;

We need John McCain and one campaign staffer (presumably female) …
For a special appearance before the Federal Elections Commission.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 21, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

DBL, seven years of federal investigations and untold millions of taxpayers' dollars only proved that Whitewater was to presidential scandals as Oakland was to Gertrude Stein -- there's no "there" there.

So, please take at face value Lucy's kind and gentle hint, and get a life.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 21, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

I can't recall but isn't that what they did? Wasn't the reason she was sent to jail because she refused to testify notwithstanding the grant of immunity? What possible reason could she have for not testifying in those circumstances except to protect someone? Even the interview you so helpfully excerpt doesn't explain that.

You must not have read the whole interview, then:

MCDOUGAL: And so, after we were convicted, Jim McDougal decided that he was going to also claim that the David Hale story was true. And he came to me and said, "I'm going to say whatever they want me to say, because I do not want to die in jail." And I said, "I understand. I absolutely understand. Jim, you know that I am not going to do that. I could not live with myself and do that." And he said, "Well, you're an idiot."

So I came to believe over time that they were pressuring Jim to have me also make that deal. But Jim McDougal would come back from meetings with them, after he had decided to cooperate. And he would be kind of laughing and telling me these stories that they were making up to try to convict the President with. And he was kind of saying, "How does this story sound?" And he would give me these detailed stories of what he was going to say that Clinton and he had done.

And I said, "Jim, how are you ever going to go to court with these made-up stories and survive? They're going to kill you." And he looked at me so seriously -- just dead in the eye -- and he said, "The Independent Counsel is giving me the documents to weave these stories around, Susan. And the Clintons don't have them."

And I was like, oh, man, I am such an idiot. I kept thinking there's no way anyone's going to believe these stories. And then Jim's telling me that they've got these documents that they're weaving these lies around to make them look real. And I thought, my God. And at that time I pretty much decided not one step more. They are not going to do this with me. And watching Jim McDougal become this craven sort of lackey for Kenneth Starr made me just sick, because Jim McDougal was the man I had once loved and respected.

To see him turn into this person who could just kind of laughingly tell lies about someone to destroy their life -- and know that he was under terrible pressure to do that -- it made me hate them. And I decided then, watching him, that I would have no part of it. No matter what it cost me.

....Then I went to the grand jury and I told them that I loved this country. I loved the laws of the country --.... But I did not believe that the people who were holding the grand jury -- the Independent Counsel -- were looking for the truth, and that I would not be answering their questions.

If they wanted to give me anyone else -- a U.S. attorney -- any other investigative body, then I might talk. But I did not believe that Kenneth Starr wanted the truth.

Posted by: Stefan on February 21, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Wealthy powerful man
Has sex with woman who is not is wife.
This is not a story. Ho Hum

Posted by: bakho on February 21, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Not sure what angle TNR is playing. Surely McCain is most likely to kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims, which is TNR's raison d'être. Why dig up dirt on the guy?

Hillary was their candidate, as she curtsied in all the right directions. Now it looks like Obama, not sure they have a play here. Unless this is timed to help McCain. Seems farfetched, but possible.

Posted by: luci on February 21, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

uh, luci, you might be interested in the current issue of TNR, featuring Jonathan Chait's "Maverick vs. Iceman: The Cold Calculations of the Straight Talker":

It is a truly impressive skill McCain has--the ability to adopt new beliefs and convince his new allies that his conversion is genuine (or, at least, irreversible) while simultaneously strengthening their belief in the immutability of his principles. I suspect that, in the end, it will come to tears for McCain's new allies--just as it has for most of those, including me, who thought they had a bead on him in the past. But, really, who knows?
Posted by: Lucy on February 21, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Since it's behind a subscription wall, here's more:

McCain did not leave his party, but he came close. The Washington Post (at the time) and The Hill (again last year) reported that, in 2001, McCain met with Democratic leaders to ponder a party switch. McCain and his allies deny these accounts, which are obviously devastating to his current prospects, and reporters almost never mention it in their McCain coverage. They also rarely mention how, in 2004, John Kerry wooed him to join his ticket as vice president. The reported half-dozen conversations the two held on the topic are about a half-dozen more than would have been needed if McCain truly was a dyed-in-the-wool conservative Republican.

After the Kerry flirtation ended, McCain obviously decided that his only plausible path to the presidency lay with the Republican Party in 2008. So he set about reingratiating himself with the GOP establishment while maintaining his reputation as an unwavering man of principle.

Posted by: Lucy on February 21, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK
I think this was a dumb thing for the New York Times to run if they're trying to help ensure that a Democrat gets elected.

Why would you assume that the New York Times is trying to help ensure that a Democrat gets elected?

Try Googling "new your times endorses mccain".

Posted by: kenga on February 21, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well, that would be interesting, but I think this will work better:
"new york times endorses mccain"

Posted by: kenga on February 21, 2008 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Well, that would be interesting, but I think this will work better: "new york times endorses mccain"
Posted by: kenga

Meaningless. The Seattle Times, the right leaning of Seattle's two dailies, endorsed McCain for the Rethug nomination one weekend and Obama the next weekend for the the Democratic nomination. It's standard practice.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 21, 2008 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

It seems pretty clear to me that the article the NYT published was the watered-down version Keller wanted. They took out reference to any affair and instead used vague references to "inappropriate" communications.

So we have no idea whether or not the reporters did, indeed, "nail it."

Posted by: Asher Miller on February 21, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Wealthy powerful man
Has sex with woman who is not is wife.
This is not a story. Ho Hum -Bakho

I am more concerned about the telcom relationship. Did McCain cheat? Probably. Who cares? The moral majority.

Posted by: Jet on February 21, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

I think this will work better:
"new york times endorses mccain"
Posted by: kenga

Having no life at all, I tried it both ways.
The result was about the same. Them googles is smart.

Posted by: thersites on February 21, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

So we have no idea whether or not the reporters did, indeed, "nail it." Posted by: Asher Miller

Here, let me fix that for you.

So, we have no idea whether he nailed her and whether the reporters nailed that.

You're welcome.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 21, 2008 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Where was Keller when Judy Miller helped lead us to war?

Posted by: Jet on February 21, 2008 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's weird reading this blog, mainly because its 'proprietor', a California liberal, is the most moderate and rational contributor to it. In that sense, it's like auditing a day-care class. For those of you here who are still unaware of the fact that this country has elected two Bushes, a Clinton, and a Reagan since 1980 in spite of the little moral majoritan dreamworld most of you seem to inhabit, allow me to point out that to every conservative-to-moderate male voter in this country, this story is win-win for McCain. If it's true it means that he's been shagging not one but two hot younger blonds (thereby negating the age and studliness advantage of Obama); if it's false, it means that the Times has libelled him and that Rush and his army of Dittoheads are now his new best friends--plus his actual dealings with lobbyists are now coated in Teflon. As for the timing of this listless libel--too late to hurt him against Romney, too early to hurt him in November--it's all good. And, as an extra added bonus, it's declared open season for the Cons to retaliate with their 'magic Negro' slanders. As in 'two unnamed sources state that Obama had inappropriate relations with a convicted drug dealer.' Now it's inevitable that you'll see a meme like that on Fox.

So keep on dreaming. It sure beats winning, doesn't it?

In the real world elections are still (just barely) about policies that appeal to centrists like me, Get it? It's not about demonizing--or glorifying--individual candidates, all of whom have feet of clay.

Posted by: Hope Muntz on February 21, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

It's weird reading this blog, mainly because its 'proprietor', a California liberal, is the most moderate and rational contributor to it. In that sense, it's like auditing a day-care class. For those of you here who are still unaware of the fact that this country has elected two Bushes, a Clinton, and a Reagan since 1980 in spite of the little moral majoritan dreamworld most of you seem to inhabit, allow me to point out that to every conservative-to-moderate male voter in this country, this story is win-win for McCain. If it's true it means that he's been shagging not one but two hot younger blonds (thereby negating the age and studliness advantage of Obama); if it's false, it means that the Times has libelled him and that Rush and his army of Dittoheads are now his new best friends--plus his actual dealings with lobbyists are now coated in Teflon. As for the timing of this listless libel--too late to hurt him against Romney, too early to hurt him in November--it's all good. And, as an extra added bonus, it's declared open season for the Cons to retaliate with their 'magic Negro' slanders. As in 'two unnamed sources state that Obama had inappropriate relations with a convicted drug dealer.' Now it's inevitable that you'll see a meme like that on Fox.

So keep on dreaming. It sure beats winning, doesn't it?

In the real world elections are still (just barely) about policies that appeal to centrists like me, Get it? It's not about demonizing--or glorifying--individual candidates, all of whom have feet of clay.

Posted by: Hope Muntz on February 21, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone have a spare Xanax?

Posted by: Cindy McCain on February 21, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

As for the timing of this listless libel--too late to hurt him against Romney, too early to hurt him in November--it's all good. And, as an extra added bonus, it's declared open season for the Cons to retaliate with their 'magic Negro' slanders. As in 'two unnamed sources state that Obama had inappropriate relations with a convicted drug dealer.' Now it's inevitable that you'll see a meme like that on Fox. Posted by: Hope Muntz

Why thank you, spokesperson from the Big Bopper School of There-Is-No-Such-Thing-As-Bad- Publicity.

Next up: Why checking into rehab is wonderful for your acting, music or sport career.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 21, 2008 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

The Hillary/Obama debates in Texas are going to be on at 7pm CST! If you don't have cable, but have satellite or DSL internet you can watch it at CNN.com

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 21, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

In the real world elections are still (just barely) about policies that appeal to centrists like me, Get it? It's not about demonizing--or glorifying--individual candidates, all of whom have feet of clay.

Which is why in the real world George W. Bush won the 2004 election by appealing to centrist policies and without demonizing John Kerry....

Posted by: Stefan on February 21, 2008 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

And, as an extra added bonus, it's declared open season for the Cons to retaliate with their 'magic Negro' slanders. As in 'two unnamed sources state that Obama had inappropriate relations with a convicted drug dealer.' Now it's inevitable that you'll see a meme like that on Fox.

Because they never would have done that otherwise.....

Posted by: Stefan on February 21, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Wealthy powerful man
Has sex with woman who is not is wife.
This is not a story. Ho Hum

So I guess you weren't around for that whole Clinton-Lewinsky thing, huh?

Posted by: Stefan on February 21, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

So I guess you weren't around for that whole Clinton-Lewinsky thing, huh?
Posted by: Stefan

Long before the Clinton-Lewinsky thing there was this Clinton-somebody else thing (Jennifer Flowers?). I still remember the nighttime news show interview, with Hillary gazing lovingly at Bill while he said something about denial or forgiveness. They seemed to manage the gaff just fine. I expect McCain will too, if there is any truth to it.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 21, 2008 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

"I expect McCain will too, if there is any truth to it."

It's not the sex, it's the hypocrisy, something that could not be said of Clinton. It's also a matter of their core voters, not to mention McCain's undeserved "straight talk" reputation. If it's true, McCain will have a far more difficult time riding this out than did Clinton.

Posted by: PaulB on February 22, 2008 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

Note to Obama campaign: Don't forget to appeal to "centrists" who think McCain is studly for "shagging" two blondes 8 years ago.

Posted by: Lucy on February 22, 2008 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

It's also a matter of their core voters, not to mention McCain's undeserved "straight talk" reputation. If it's true, McCain will have a far more difficult time riding this out than did Clinton.
Posted by: PaulB

I bet they rationalize it away, unless they get real smoking gun proof. What they have now is pretty flimsy, embarrassingly so for a major news source. Even with a smoking gun I bet most will choke it down, so to speak. It will be interesting to see.

McCain was known for being a "player" when he was still in the Navy while still married to wife #1. I'm not surprised about the "40 going on 25" comment she made.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 22, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I bet they rationalize it away, unless they get real smoking gun proof. What they have now is pretty flimsy, embarrassingly so for a major news source.
Posted by: sjrsm

No. What we got was an apparently watered down story considered too inflammatory for the unwashed masses, the Rethug faithful and the ever more conservative NYT.

The point Josh Marshall is hammering away at, and something that makes the eyes of most Americans glaze over, is that McCain's ethics vis-a-vis lobbiest and corporate special interest is challenged beyond recovery. But how can that possibly compete with the sex angle?

Posted by: Jeff II on February 22, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's ethics vis-a-vis lobbiest and corporate special interest is challenged beyond recovery. But how can that possibly compete with the sex angle?

It can't. Which is why it's marginally convenient that instead of just happily accepting favors and cash from all those other lobbyists while rigorously pretending that he's anti-lobbyist, McCain apparently acted on the dumber-than-rocks urge to bop one of them, thereby ensuring that a few people might pay attention.

Today's WaPo story on McCain's lobbyist-packed campaign team is pretty devastating.

Posted by: shortstop on February 22, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, check this delicious piece
ttp://newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2008/02/22/bill-kellers-glass-house-adultery

Bill Keller has his own baggage to reckon with...Is he mad?

Posted by: bob on February 22, 2008 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

The NYT editor, Keller, had a wife AND pregnant mistress? who would have thought?


Posted by: John on February 22, 2008 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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