Did John McCain Commit the Ultimate Flip-Flop With a Lobbyist?
I think there are three relevant points about the John McCain adultery story:
(1) It's not the infidelity, it's the favoritism. If the New York Times story about John McCain were solely about marital infidelity, I would say that, like the Times' similar 2006 story about Bill and Hillary Clinton's marriage (that one was even worse because it was all about salaciousness and had no lobbying angle), there is no news value and it's none of anyone's business. However, the McCain story has relevant news value because, if the allegations are true, McCain did something similar to what Paul Wolfowitz did as President of the World Bank — gave special favors to a female lobbyist and her clients in the context of a sexual relationship with the lobbyist. If McCain voted and helped procure favors for the lobbyist and her client companies, using our tax dollars, for reasons not solely related to the merits, that is a giant conflict of interest and ethical violation, and therefore it is an issue that warrants investigation.
(2) This story does not sprout from a clean slate. McCain has a history of both adultery (McCain reportedly began a relationship with his current wife Cindy while he was married to someone else), and corruption (McCain was one of the "Keating Five" senators cited in the savings and loan scandal in the late 1980s, which involved doing special favors for a wealthy donor).
(3) It's not the adultery, it's the hypocrisy. McCain constantly rails against the influence of the special interests (the ones represented by the lobbyists) in Washington. This alleged independence is the centerpiece of McCain's "maverick" and "straight talk" persona. If it turns out that McCain is just another Washington politician in the pocket of lobbyists, for whatever reason, then McCain becomes a phony and a total hypocrite.
This story will have to play out.