The New York Times, which has long been considered the chief bastion of the Liberal Media Establishment, broke a story that McCain was probably hoping nobody would bring up. It seems that he was suspiciously close to a lobbyist named Vicki Iseman during his 2000 presidential bid. So close, in fact, that some of his advisors staged an intervention.
Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself - instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting himNow, here's where it gets interesting. Although the story quotes other people, primarily former aides of McCain, who thought McCain might be bumping uglies with a woman thirty years younger than he is, the story never really pays attention to the fact that they might be having sex.
The story was really about the fact that McCain was the last survivor of the "Keating 5." See, back in the 80's, there was a millionaire financier named Charles Keating, who was blatantly stealing money from the Savings and Loan industry, which had been essentially deregulated by the Reagan administration. Keating went to jail for that little indiscretion, but not before spending well over a million dollars in gifts and donations to five senators (that's why they're called the "Keating 5," ya know).
After a lengthy investigation, the Senate Ethics Committee determined in 1991 that Alan Cranston, Dennis DeConcini, and Donald Riegle had substantially and improperly interfered with the FHLBB in its investigation of Lincoln Savings, while John Glenn and John McCain had been only minimally involved. The Committee recommended censure for Cranston and criticized the other four for "questionable conduct."So McCain tried to reform his image, pushing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms, fighting against earmarks, and claiming to be free of the influence of any lobbyists. In the meantime, though, his campaign is run by lobbyists, and he had a relationship with one that was so close that his aides intervened.
All five of the senators involved served out their terms, but only Glenn and McCain were subsequently re-elected.
(Oh, yeah. And those McCain-Feingold campaign finance rules? It seems that he can't manage to follow them, either.)
That was the story. It makes sense. It shows that McCain is surrounded by lobbyists, advised by lobbyists, and his campaign is infested by lobbyists, no matter what he says. But, ignoring the fact that this same story was covered last December by that stalwart liar of the right-wing press, Matt Drudge, the McCain campaign has insisted that this is just a puerile attempt by the left-wing media to smear the senator with a sex scandal, and that everything else was a complete fabrication. And the sex is barely part of the story at all.
McCain's campaign immediately threw up a spirited defense. Now, let's ignore the fact that Newsweek showed that McCain's denials were contradicted, in fact, by McCain himself. But this is a fascinating story for a number of reasons. First, consider the timing.
1. People are starting to notice that McCain would be, like, the oldest president ever. And suddenly, he's slipping the wrinkled lizard into some young(ish) blond bimbo. "Hey, maybe he isn't over the hill after all."
But that's a lesser argument.
2. Over on a blog called Blah3, they make an interesting point.
You have to look at the timing of this whole thing. By letting the legal teams hash out the release of the story for three months before acquiescing to its publication, we see the release of the story just as McCain seems poised to take the GOP nomination - but still pretty far out from Election Day. Given that many TV pundits have already decided that this story will only hang around for a couple of days, all McCain needs to do is deny, deny, deny until it dies down, and presto! - he's innoculated! Any revisiting of the story between now and November - whether or not there are new revelations — will be written off by the McCain campaign as 'old news.'First, they fight to keep it under wraps. And now, when it can't hurt him in the primaries or the election, they get to gain conservative points by fighting the libelous smear from the Gray Lady and its evil leftist agenda. And he gets to play the victim card.
... But it doesn't stop there - not by a shot. Over at Politico, McCain advisor Charlie Black lets slip that after negotiating with the Times over the story for months, now they're going to cash in on it.
Cute, isn't it?
So, do we care that McCain might be mixing Viagra with his Metamucil? Not so much... well, OK, there are probably a few people out there to whom it matters a lot. I'm not one of them. Personally, I like Matthew Yglesias' take on it in The Atlantic:
Obviously, I don't know whether or not McCain had sex with Iseman. I suppose by "what the meaning of the word 'is' is" standards, he didn't even deny having had sex with Iseman. Certainly it'd be a bit rich of McCain to get outraged that anyone would even suggest that he might engage in sexual improprieties. After all, it's well known that he repeatedly cheated on his first wife Carol, of a number of years, with a variety of women, before eventually dumping her for a much-younger heiress whose family fortune was able to help finance his political career. That's well known, I should say, except to the electorate, who would probably find that this sort of behavior detracts from McCain's "character" appeal.Actually, most of the people to whom this whole "messing around on his wife" thing would matter aren't Democrats. You'll find them primarily on the Republican side of the fence. And that's where the reaction starts to reach the level of slapstick.
Noted Republican tool Bay Buchanan (sister of Pat) went on Anderson Cooper and actually managed to make the following statement without her large intestine, outraged by the inane and frankly ignorant content of her statement, rising out of her throat like an evil-smelling serpent and strangling her.
This is not the Democratic Party, this is a party of values. We assume our candidates have been loyal to their family.You really don't know how to react to a statement like that. Except maybe to try and get a response from Larry Craig (if you can pull him out of the men's room) or David Vitter (hey, at least his hookers were female, even if he did have a diaper fetish). Or possibly a roundtable discussion between Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich ("So, Rudy, one of your wives found out that your were divorcing her from a press conference. And Newt, you served your first wife with divorce papers while she was in the hospital, recovering from cancer surgery. Please explain how important loyalty to your family is to a Republican?")
Let's be honest, OK? The sex angle is secondary in the McCain story. It's the juicy, salacious part of the story, but it isn't the most important part. The important thing to remember is that, despite his big talk about being the only candidate "the special interests don’t give any money to," (and we'll ignore the big lie in the middle of that statement), despite claiming to be untouched by the lobbyists, every aspect of McCain's life right now is shaped by those same special interest groups.
So I guess that, one way or another, it's still about McCain being in bed with the lobbyists.