The more I look at this, the more apparent it is that the talking heads of cable news totally missed the point on the New York Times article on John McCain. Sure, any whiff of a sex scandal is like blood in the water, but I think a far bigger problem is that they were unable to separate themselves from the story. Worked up about the ethics of the issue, they were unable to address the news element.
Writing at Democrats.com, David Lindorf hits the nail on the head
But really, who cares whether they were shacking up on the campaign trail? McCain, after all, already double-timed his starter wife and dumped her for a trophy wife, the statuesque and wealthy beer industry heiress Cindy Hensley, so it’s not as though he is campaigning on a strong pro-family platform.
No, the reason his aides, back in 1998-2000, started working behind the scenes to keep Iseman away from McCain, and confronted McCain over his dalliances was because McCain, who had a history of corruption, most notably his card-carrying membership in the Keating Five savings and loan scandal, couldn’t afford to appear to be backsliding.
McCain was against torture before he was for it. McCain was against Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy before he was for them. McCain was against Bush’s war (or at least the way Bush wanted to carry it out) before he was for it. And, most importantly, McCain was against election campaign ethics before he was for them. From the Wikipedia article on the Keating Five:
After months of testimony revealed that all five senators acted improperly to differing degrees, the senators continually said they were following the status quo of campaign funding practices. … The committee recommended censure for Cranston and criticized the other four for “questionable conduct”.
Still, people can change. It’s reasonable to believe that McCain is now a supporter of tax cuts for the wealthy, torture and clean politics. The problem is that the evidence isn’t there.
As I mentioned previously, McCain made some bold statements in his press conference. Up until that point, the sex stuff was irrelevant. But the other stuff is murkier. Writing at TPM Muckraker, Paul Kiel point out that McCain distorted the facts – rather than being totally aboveboard, letters written on behalf of one of Iseman’s (the lobbyist at the centre of the Times article) clients prompted an objection from the head of the FCC:
As The Boston Globe reported way back in 2000, William Kennard, the FCC chair at the time, had immediately objected to McCain’s December 10, 1999 letter, replying four days later that it was “highly unusual” and that he was “concerned” at what effect McCain’s letter might have on the decision process.
If the head of the committee was concerned, I’d say there’s the appearance of impropriety. Sure, it was “business as usual”, but so, said McCain, was the Keating scandal.
There’s another part to McCain’s denial that rings a little hollow as well – the issue of his contacts with the New York Times over the story. Last night Pat Buchanan said that McCain’s lawyer convinced the Times not to run with the story in December because it was too close to the start of the primaries. David Kurtz at TPM discusses this. The wingnuts have been whining that the Times ran this story just to hurt McCain, but as Cenk Uygar points out, it really looks like they did everything to help McCain (including, of course, endorsing him while sitting on the story). If they had run the story in December, it would probably have changed the outcome of the Republican primary. If they had waited to run it in October, it might really have hurt him. Instead, they did him the favour of running it at a time when it’s least likely to do him any damage. Uygar says
I think the far simpler answer is the correct one. The McCain campaign threatened and intimidated them as the Bush team has done on countless occasions and they gave in until someone else was about to release the story. The only thing worse than being bullied by Republicans is getting scooped by your competitors.
Oh, and worse than all that – ScienceAvenger suspects that McCain is a creationist
Is John McCain a creationist? It sure looks like it from this article:
McCain told the Star that, like Bush, he believes “all points of view” should be available to students studying the origins of mankind.
H/T to Mahablog for the Cenk Uygar material.