February 20, 2008

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.

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At 4:55 AM, Blogger globalchameleon said...

your headline just invoked a mental image it will take years of therapy to erase...(great post otherwise, though!)

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

I had always admired McCain's honesty and his refusal to play the lobbyist game. Guess that bubble has been broken. This campaign is going to get a lot nastier before it's over, to be sure.

He probably lost any hope of the right-wing conservative vote by this disclosure! I'd say it goes against "family values", yes?

At 6:19 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

GC -- that's not as bad as a comment on one blog I read. I won't go into detail, but it was quite graphic, and thus quite nauseating.

Barbara -- have you been following the news today? The conservatives are all defending McCain, attacking the NY Times. They are following the theory of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Meanwhile, the drip drip of McCain's special favors for lobbyists continues. Today it was reported that McCain has a pattern of getting fundraisers by telecom lobbyists and being flown around on their clients' planes, then the very next day writing letters to the FCC (the agency he oversaw as Commerce Committee Chmn.) to take action on deals that the clients were involved in.

And Newsweek reports that McCain's statement that no one at Paxson TV (the subject of the NYT story) asked him to push their deal through the FCC is flatly untrue. Newsweek dug up a sworn deposition by McCain where he admits that the company chairman himself, Bud Paxson, contacted McCain about this. Oops.


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