McCain Scandal Reignites The Issue Of Political Favors

21 02 2008

So the John McCain story hit last night and as the blogosphere hashes it out as well as mainstream news, I’ve had all night to think about it.

This isn’t a titillatingly story about infidelity or anything of that nature I don’t think. I could be wrong but I just don’t think it is.

It’s actually more complex than that. This is more about a relationship between a senator and a lobbyist and if that friendship helped her firm out in passing, and stifling, legislation. The realist in me says this is what lobbyists do. The political junkie in me says “What’s New? This crap happens all the time.”

And then I’m like, damn, I’m so tired of all of this because we are being governed by people whose agenda are swayed by the few.
But there are a few issues. First of all, the NYT’s story has little meat to it and not much gravy. There are too many unanswered questions in the bulk of the story. The timing of the release is also suspect and as Ginger stated in the comments of my last post, this could be the reason that Huckabee has stuck around. But in this generation’s news cycle that is so different than, let’s say Watergate or even the Iran-Contra scandal, this could be old hat by Saturday morning. Just opining here.

Josh Marshall, who just received the George Polk Award for his series on the US Attorney Firings (yep, a blog won. Welcome to the new world) writes this:

This is an odd story for a couple reasons. We know that the McCain Camp went to the mattresses to get this story spiked back in December. And some heavy legal muscle was apparently brought to bear. When a story has to go through that much lawyering it often comes out pretty stilted and with some obvious lacunae. And this one definitely qualifies. Reading the Times piece it struck me as a bit of a jumble. The reference to a possible affair is there in the lede. But then most of the piece is a rehash of a lot of older material about McCain’s record before getting back to the relationship with Iseman.

You see, the story has to do with the persona of McCain and not so much with the issue of impropriety of an intimate nature. And McCain tried to bury it. He’s been in a scandal before, you know. Let’s take a walk through history, shall we?

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

It had been just a decade since an official favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended Mr. McCain’s political career by ensnaring him in the Keating Five scandal. In the years that followed, he reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.


Here’s a breakdown for you younguns who might not remember the Keating Five.

So the question is more about political favors than it is anything else. And it doesn’t surprise me that McCain tried to squash it. Any politician would do that no matter what party they are affiliated with.

So the other question is why did the New York Times play along for awhile and is there anythingiseman.jpg significant about the release of these allegations. And did the LA Times squash it completely.

This honestly isn’t going to help McCain but the reality is that the backlash may hurt the newspapers for a variety of reasons.

And Iseman is well-connected.

You know, it never ceases to amaze me that everyone loves a good sex scandal but I don’t think you’re going to find that here.

The real story is about political favors.

Photo credit




8 responses

21 02 2008

Oh boy. A few weeks ago on the Cognitive Daily blog, the story was about the psychological issues with political scandals. Once it has been leaked to the general public that McCain has an affair, then McCain really did have an affair, and no amount of evidence or testimony is going to convince people otherwise.

You are right. The real story will be about the political favors, but that’s not what the pundits will be talking about this week.

21 02 2008


They always have a holdback, so when the news gets slow they can goose it up again.

I haven’t liked John McCain for quite some time, so I don’t have a problem with him getting drilled. I’m sure there will be some juicy bomblets to drop on Ms. Clinton or B. HUSSEIN O’bama whenever the nomination process ends. It would be nice if they (the NYT and everybody else) would publish the straight news and at least put the opinion portion in a sidebar or italics so that the credulous boobs would know which was which–oh, sorry, my bad, they don’t want to know.

21 02 2008
Vaughn D

Hey McCain, please tell us this isn’t true – but words are empty, so show us with a libel suit!

21 02 2008

Vaughn, not a bad point.
Demo, you’re right. There is always a holdback. Wonder how this will impact the debates this evening, if at all.

21 02 2008

A couple of thoughts on this….

The standard a politician has to meet to win a libel case is so high that it wouldn’t be practical for McCain to file one. Besides, at that point, the NY Times can then play the game where they go from irresponsible outlet printing unsubstanciated sexual rumors, to victim of meaney politician trying to squelch free speech via lawsuit. McCain won’t fall in that trap.

Not too original a thought here, but it bears repeating that the Times managed to pretty much unite conservatives by throwing in the sexual innuendo. It’s too blatant a hit piece to have that stuff in when there is no real backing. Actually, assuming there is no there… there, the Times just did McCain a huge favor.

24 02 2008
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