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February 21, 2008

Comments

Exposing McCain as a hypocrite on lobbying reform isn't going to hurt him with the Republicans, is it?

It is if it's coupled with having *gasp* SEX!

I think Josh is giving the NYT more credit than they deserve. This is still the same place that gave us Jayson Blair, Judith Miller, the Wen Ho Lee coverage, and more.

McCain is headed to "war" with the New York Times. Well, he said there would be more wars. He is a man of his word, no?

I’m just waiting to see how those people who claim that the media is controlled by the right and that McCain is a media darling square this…

the NYT must have more than they’re publishing at this point

You'd think that, if you hadn't been disappointed by a succession of previous, similar expectations to that effect.

I wouldn't be surprised if either a) this was a complete non-story, as far as the juicy bits are concerned, or b) it's every bit of what the NYT is portraying it to be, only they're under a writer's strike, and the National Enquirer staff is all that was left to serve as scabs.

I mean, I'm a long, long way from being any authority on what constitutes good journalism, but that NYT article just didn't look like quality professional journalism to me.

(snark)Neither a dead girl nor a live boy--just a corporate lobbiest. No story here (/snark)

Easy. The NYT has been noted for some time as the exception.

Most corporate media outlets are, from the managerial staff up, controlled by people who identify as Republican. The degree to which they deliberately manipulate their coverage varies, Faux being the worst, of course.

Well, if nothing else, this should solidify his role as a replacement for Bob Dole in Viagra commercials.

The Washington Post has put out a piece following the Times article, with information and sources not named in the Times article. It looks like the story was going to be put out, not just be Drudge, momentarily. A very minor story.....at this point. Still, I have been wondering for, literally years, when people would get back to the Keating Five angle.

As publius noted, if the NYT wasn't coddling McCain to some degree they could have released this in January and done Mittens a world of good.

If anything, the NYT leaked it at the best possible time. If they leak it earlier, it looks like they’re trying to knock McCain out. If they leak it later, it looks like they’re trying to influence the general.

Does a newspaper "leak?" I thought sources leaked and a newspaper "published."

It was none of my business when it was Bill Clinton, and the same holds true with McCain. I don't care. But, he's not my candidate anyway...

He would have done the actions on behalf of the lobbyist and her interests whether they were having an affair or not—that is the issue. It's what lobbyists are for. Whether that was a violation of something or dings his credibility is up to Republicans to judge.

The fact that they are going to judge him on the SEX is his problem. Dogs, fleas, etc.

An immutable law of journalism: Rich Lowry is never, never right.

Look, the sex angle is just the cherry atop a big, gooey sundae. It's only purpose is to attract the consumer.

That John McCain has a long history of infidelity isn't in dispute. This story (and others like it)have been circulating around DC since McCain was still in the service.

The real meat of this latest story is McCain's intervention on behalf of lobbyist; especially after having a similar episode nearly derail his political career some 20 years earlier. Watching McCain's presser, there's a great deal of bluster and a whole lotta non-denial denying.

Slarti: It reads to me like an article that lawyers fought with reporters over every step of the way. Sort of like the battlefield at Paeschendale, only in print form. It also looks as though the lawyers won at several crucial points. And apparently the NYT didn't go forward because it had up and decided to, but because TNR is about to publish a story on them spiking the story, which means that this does not represent a story that, in everyone's best journalistic judgment, was done and ready to go.

Rightly or wrongly, I am convinced that the NYT has a lot more than it is now showing. I am completely agnostic on a couple of other questions: first, is this "more" in any way damning? (I do not at all assume that the NYT is incapable of screwing that up and fighting over something that's e.g. just embarrassing to McCain but fundamentally insignificant), and second, will the rest of us ever find out about it?

Slarti: It reads to me like an article that lawyers fought with reporters over every step of the way.

Interesting theory, hilzoy. It actually makes the way that article read make a bit more sense.

I mean, not that I expected uninteresting theories from you, or anything.

the AP version of this story is a bit more direct: Mr Campaign Reform is perfectly happy to get down with lobbyists.

Mis En Place -

The problem with sex as the cherry is that, even though it is the attraction, it is also the distraction. "I did not have sex with that woman" helps McCain avoid answering whether he was swayed by the lobbyist into doing something that was corrupt.

I have to imagine that McCain has not been pleasant to be around since this broke.

To clarify: I imagine no one would be pleasant to be around in such circumstances, but given the stories about McCain's temper, it must be especially unpleasant.

Looks like McCain's competence argument has similar problems to Clinton's.

Question: What to John McCain and Bill Clinton have in common?

Answer: The same overweight Washington lawyer who is billing McCain $800 per hour as he plugs his own book and tells us to trust him.

Lobbying reform? What if I could prove a US government agency pays group to do lobbying in Congress in that agencies name? It's not the CIA and MoveOn or one of their retirement groups and(AARP).

OCSteve, I second wonkie's response to you. Whenever Bizarro World and its ilk b!tch about the librul media, they always turn out to mean NYT, WaPo, NPR, Olberman, and maybe a couple of reporters for Time or Newsweek. And, briefly, Dan Rather. All other newspapers in the country apparently do not count as "media" in this narrative. Nor does radio, almost all TV news, or anything else in the magazines.

Possibly this is because the two newspapers that make up the bulk of the "librul media" are also the most respected newspapers in the country for professionalism (which, admittedly, is damning with faint praise). Apparently, liberal media = competent.

Conservative media representatives, in contrast, turn out to be gay prostitutes.

Shamelessly stolen from another comments section.

A female?

Over 18 years old?

I guess that's what Republicans mean when they say McCain isn't a "true conservative".

Agree with Rupert M. above. If NYT had more, it would have led with it. Leading an article with sexual contention on slim evidence gives McC a righteous-indignation position. Especially with the semi-cheesecake photo. But maybe they're prepping for a one-two punch. Could be an interesting week here in AZ.

Otherwise I agree with you on 1, 3 and 4, publius, esp. #4. Timing was just right for avoiding partisanship.

I guess TNR was doing a story on the Times' deliberation on publishing the article that was due to come out today. So the Times may have been pushed into publishing by the TNR story.

http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=8b7675e4-36de-43f5-afdd-2a2cd2b96a24

I'd really have rather seen the Times let TNR publish and continue to sit on the story until they had it more nailed down.

On the other hand, the media tends to shovel this type of crap at Democrats all the time (see: Any John Soloman article) and somehow that's OK.

JoshA, I think comparing this to a John Solomon article is going too far. At least the story outlines something improper, in the favors done for the lobbyists' clients. Solomon stories generally have no "there" there at all. You can read through a whole story about a John Edwards "scandal" without getting any hint of what behavior was supposedly illegal or unethical.

"This way to the Egress!"

You're absolutely right that the NYT doesn't have the goods on what people will predictably leap to as the "real" story here, the candidate shtupping some lobbyist. What they do have is Weaver, former McCain aide, willing to go on record saying that he talked to the lobbyist to get her to stop publicly associating with the candidate because of the appearance of impropriety. I presume that they also have a publicly demonstrable decrease in her public appearances with the candidate coinciding with this private conversation.

Just as people at Barnum's raree show were free to think that an "Egress" must have been some fantastic new exhibit of a female bird behind the door that bore the sign, so people are free to imagine what inappropriate appearances Weaver was concerned about. And people are as unlikley to blame the NYT if their inferences can't be supported as they were to ever admit after the fact that they didn't know that an egress was the exit that dumped them back on the street, and out of Barnum's crowded show.

This will be interesting to follow. I don't have a clue whether I think the NYT has more and is sitting on it or still vetting it, or whether they're just running a crappy story because they feel obligated to devote as much news space to a GOP campaign that is all but over as to a Democratic campaign that is still (sort of) alive.

"Interesting theory, hilzoy. It actually makes the way that article read make a bit more sense."

It was the entire point of the Kevin Drum link I gave, and all of the multitude of other stories linked therein, in which thousands of words and further links were given about the lacunae in the story, the timing, the triggers, and so on. It's not exactly an original theory; it's the foundation for all the endless discussion that has gone on last night, all of which you clearly missed. It's why I posted it last night.

Not that it stopped anyone from posting broken dead links to the same thing three times.

For whatever it's worth (it doesn't seem like much) How To Link.

It gets better; Bob Bennett is Bill Bennett’s brother.

This general election may make Nixon-McGovern look like a cliffhanger.

A few random thoughts.

Those pointing out the NYT is the same outlet that spawned Judith Miller, Jeff Gerth and Jayson Blair are comparing apples and oranges. The sins of Blair and friends were a distinct lack of oversight; that is, the NYT was willing to run whatever issued forth from their word processors with little or no adult supervision.

In this case, the NYT had at least 4 experienced reporters on the story. And they apparently had very careful, perhaps excessive, attention from the editor. It's also clear the article was quite carefully worded suggesting some legal scrutiny.

Why did McCain hire Bob Bennett? Kerry, Edwards, Richardson, even Hillary Clinton have all at one point or another been accused of extramarital monkey business. All candidates as far as I can remember are usually pinned with some dodgy business or financial doings. Such stories are slapped down by campaign spokesmen and forgotten. Why hire Bennett?

"Now, however, is the best time, both because the general is a long time away and because it theoretically lets the GOP select a new nominee if these stories hold up."

"Theoretically" is the right word, as a practical matter McCain has the nomination all sewn up. The reality is that the NYT decided that it was too late for the GOP to select a different nominee, and so it was time to start unloading on McCain.

Pretty much everybody on the right, outside of perhaps McCain himself, knew the media would fall out of love with him the moment he secured the nomination, and they were faced with a choice between him and a real Democrat, instead of just boosting the Republican who Democrats found least offensive. Waiting until it became mathematically impossible for the nomination to go to somebody else, rather than just wildly improbable, would have been a waste of good smearing time.

The NY Times? Whch shamelessly pushed the Duke Rape Scandal until the charges were thrown out? Which claimed to have even MORE damning information on this matter than had already been revealed? Why would anyone believe them on any issue other than sports scores from two days ago?

Gary, could you ease up just a bit?

If Slarti's reading on the issue has been confined to today, and to the NYT story itself and to this blog, that's pretty normal, not some kind of blogging offense. No one here should be made to feel obligated to be at the screen all night in order to avoid making a point that someone else might have made earlier on some other blog.

This isn't about Slarti in particular, who doesn't need (or probably even welcome) me standing up for him, but about rmaintaining a tone here that assures people their comments will be engaged substantively rather than by carping.

Speaking of which, the substantive contribution I was about to make to the conversation has just been made redundant by Mis en Place: The story as it stands certainly has obvious gaps, but McCain's lawyering up does nothing to decrease the suspicion that there is fire as well as smoke.

TNR has their story on the Times up.

OT: A really nice diary on dKos about a bunch of voters. When I let myself get hopeful, this is what I hope for. It's worth reading.

Thanks for the pointer, hilzoy. Oh, man. I have actual tears in my eyes.

And, at the same time, more certainty than ever that the Obama administration will be a bumpy ride... It would take a set of miracles to keep everybody in that gas station on board.

"It would take a set of miracles to keep everybody in that gas station on board."

As it drives down the road, listening to the swan-song of the jackboots of the fascist octopus.

Touche.

I agree with the general consensus that there's not a lot of there there. Either this is like a tabloid gotcha--get him on the record denying everything, then publish the rest--or McCain talked to a lobbyist who looks like his wife. It's not clear any legislative favors were granted.

The sex aspect really bothers me, both because I could care less about any politician's sex life, but also because the sex appears to consist of the possibility of the appearance of an affair. I think sex scandals must involve something more like actual sex. Putting his family through a MCCAIN SEX SCANDAL on such flimsy evidence is cruel, and I think could backfire if there's nothing more to the story. Republicans will rally round if there's nothing to see here but an attempt to humiliate him and his family.

DEborah above. I worked on the Hill for a few years and it is clear official favors were granted in this case.

Licences were on hold for cause. He signs a letter dictated out of the lobbyist's ofice to officials over which he holds budget and other authrity. It is rejected with cause. He signs a second letter under he name form the lobbyists office.

This is exactly the type of behavior McCain has decried.

In terms of the issue of an affiar, or multiple affairs, you are just getting the very tip fo the iceberg on what everyone on the Hill knows.

Clinton got a B*** fror a consenting adult while married. McCain was screwing around on the wife who had arguably suffered as much as he did during Vietnam, and who was devoted to him and the children she had to take care of all alone. She got ill and he dumped her and married an heiress who could bankroll his political ambitions. That is no secret. His current wife is ill (stroke) just as his first one was when he started fooling around.

To me the NYT article is pretty good. I think it probably was better before being lawyered up.

What you get a sense of, by reading with an open mind is a man who is HUMAN. A man who has struggled with ethical issues and who has often succumbed spectacularly to unethical behavior in his official capacity and in his personal life in the past and probably to this day.

The people going after the Times are the people indignant that Bill Clinton had consensual sex outside of marriage, but who have been unaware that McCain has had this same problem ten fold.

The ddep irony that he has been marketed politcally and personally virtuous, when he is no more (or less) so than anyone creates a disonance, and therefore anger at the tiems for unvieling the contradictions.

People who know life is full of gray areas, paradoxes and contradictions, and human weakness, have no problem -- and probably walk away from the article with no net negative feeling about McCain. People who see absolutes, good and evil, etc, are spewing mad at the times, for further breaking their illusions about the world.

It was the entire point of the Kevin Drum link I gave

Speaking of how to link, where is that Kevin Drum link? Am I the only one that's lost, here?

This isn't about Slarti in particular, who doesn't need (or probably even welcome) me standing up for him

On the contrary, Nell, that was most welcome. Thank you.

"I think sex scandals must involve something more like actual sex. Putting his family through a MCCAIN SEX SCANDAL on such flimsy evidence is cruel, and I think could backfire if there's nothing more to the story. Republicans will rally round if there's nothing to see here but an attempt to humiliate him and his family."

Does this mean we get to have Gary Hart as at least the Democratic nominee in 1988, after all?

"Does this mean we get to have Gary Hart as at least the Democratic nominee in 1988, after all?"

But for Gary Hart, there were pictures and a yacht named Monkey Business. I think that last element was crucial. (joke)

Thinking about that as a scandal now is like when you were a kid and you thought making fart sounds using your hand and your armpit was a worthy skill.

Ahh, finally reading above the last comment (I tend to go down to the last comment and work my way up, as it can be difficult to find out where it was where you last read) and I see that Gary posted the Kevin Drum link in the earlier thread here, immediately after which he posted two more links for me. I have to admit, I didn't see the Drum link when I posted the TPM link and I didn't see Gary pointing out that the Drum link included the TPM link, perhaps because I clued in to my name in the second post.

Anyway, I just post that because Slarti asked about the Drum link and some of Gary's ire is probably because I reposted something that he had posted. Apologies all around.

That may explain some things, LJ, but I'm still a little confused as to how it ought to be a given that I've not only read through another thread that's not this one, but explored all the various links emanating from it, as well.

Well, just speculating here, but I'd suggest that you are collateral damage and it was Gary's frustration at me not reading his links in the thread that I was posting. (as a side note, I'm having to boost up the font size, so I'm seeing less and less of the comments on the page. Really amazing how the 'window' you see thru affects your reading)

Like the kid who gets paddled because the guy next to him did something, it might not make you feel better, but it might make it a bit more understandable.

Thanks, LJ, but I was way more confused than uncomfortable. I thought Gary was maybe subjecting me to -three-sigma Slartic unclarity.

We don't know how much Keller or his editors sliced and diced the original reporting, how they broke it up into what was published today, what was spiked permanently or held back for another day. This may have considerably changed the story's focus, from amoral or unethical or illegal lobbying for legislative favors angle to a more hackneyed Clintonesque sex scandal.

I think the story remains untold, and that this much came out because the Times would have lost more than one reporter had it sat on the story longer. Depending on what finally emerges, we may find shoddy reporting (which seems unlikely, given the resources Baguet put on this), or shoddy management.

"What you get a sense of, by reading with an open mind is a man who is HUMAN."

Thanks for pointing out his species, I'd never have guessed. Meanwhile a remarkably large number of men who are HUMAN, don'tcha know, somehow manage not to commit adultery. So don't expect his membership in the same species to make me think better of him.

And of those men who do commit adultery, not many do so while proclaiming that anyone else doing it means the death of the republic and such a grave threat to the civil order that it warrants impeachment.

So don't expect his membership in the same species to make me think better of him.

I don't know, James T. Kirk seemed to think that Spock was the most "human" being he'd encountered and counted for something. But that's, um, a science fiction movie from the 1980s. Huh. Maybe I need to think of something else...

For me, the issue is the political ramifications of adultery, if any. Authoritarians have an inordinate ability to tolerate hypocrisy among those they accept as their leaders. The exception in America may be about sex. But see, the continued viability of senators Craig, Vitter, etc.

Like Newt Gingrich and other neocon leaders, McCain has committed adultery before and politically gotten away with it. For the GOP, I think the issue is whether the powers that be rally round him - as they do George, Rove, Gonzales, ad nauseum - make McCain walk the plank. Either seems possible. The GOPers know that Dems are more susceptible to being manipulated on this issue, because non-authoritarians are much less tolerant of hypocrisy.

The adultery is less interesting because so common than a) McCain's hypocrisy about it, and b) the real story, which is what, if any, legislative or other favors McCain sought and/or obtained for Iseman or her clients. If he did a lot, it would put a stake in the heart of the Straight Talkin' Express among independents and moderates. Which may be the edge needed in a tight race.

Not to mention that some of McCain's behavior may turn out to have been illegal. Not that the Bush InJustice Department would act on it; another president's might.

"And of those men who do commit adultery, not many do so while proclaiming that anyone else doing it means the death of the republic and such a grave threat to the civil order that it warrants impeachment."

Feh, that again. I think you need to review the impeachment charges; They didn't include adultery. They DID include matters that would have the average person doing hard time.

would have the average person doing hard time

For overmeticulous parsing of words in a deposition on a line of questioning tangentially related to a collateral matter? I doubt it.

You know, every blog needs a permanent post for each of a number of topics for people to discuss them so they don't infect other threads. IMHO opinion these topics include (in no particular order):

1. The Clinton Impeachment
2. The 2000 Election
3. Abortion
4. Israeli-Palestinian Issues

I'm sure there are others but that's what comes to mind right now.

Since I haven't seen a wild conspiracy comment yet, I will gleefully provide one. As far as political hit pieces go, this is about as amateur hour as it can possibly get. Still, it puts McCain on the defensive (an implied sex scandal!) just as he was about to wrap up the nomination, and even more tellingly, after his wealthier opponent had dropped out of the race. The clear winner from this state of affairs is Mike Huckabee. Who does Huckabee know that would be audacious enough to try such a stunt, and still be certain of his invulnerability to reprisal despite the obvious lack of finesse? Chuck Norris, the man, the myth, the unstoppable force of nature.

What they do have is Weaver, former McCain aide, willing to go on record saying that he talked to the lobbyist to get her to stop publicly associating with the candidate because of the appearance of impropriety.

Not exactly:

"The New York Times asked for a formal interview and I said no and asked for written questions. The Times knew of my meeting with Ms. Iseman, from sources they didn't identify to me, and asked me about that meeting. I did not inform Senator McCain that I asked for a meeting with Ms. Iseman.

Her comments, which had gotten back to some of us, that she had strong ties to the Commerce Committee and his staff were wrong and harmful and I so informed her and asked her to stop with these comments and to not be involved in the campaign. Nothing more and nothing less.

Ms. Iseman was apparently exaggerating her connections to the committee and McCain and Weaver told her to knock it off.

I think that the most disgusting part of this is that McCain met with Keller and the reporters personally and answered their questions. The Times spiked the story. But now they went ahead with it because someone else was going to break it?

Salter also said that the Senator would soon release statements from those people interviewed by the Times for the story -- "dozens" according to him -- who denied many of the facts alleged in the story (including Iseman's supposedly frequent presence in the Senate office), but who were not quoted in the piece.

Sweet. I’ve got no love for McCain. If there is corruption here he should burn for it. But I also hope that the NYT gets burned for this shoddy story. If McCain can really produce dozens of people interviewed by the Times who denied the allegations and the Times did not mention that…

Tomorrow should be fun.


BTW - some speculation that this is why Huckabee has been hanging in there. So think about how much you (anyone) really want this to hurt McCain.

Yup, you need to read the charges, you don't know what they really were.

"I think that the most disgusting part of this is that McCain met with Keller and the reporters personally and answered their questions. The Times spiked the story. But now they went ahead with it because someone else was going to break it?"

You're inserting some of your own assumptions there.

"The Times spiked the story."

That's incorrect. "Spiked" means killed, ceased working on. They merely kept working on it. So, yeah, there's nothing surprising about their going ahead with it.

Now, it's a perfectly legitimate question to ask if they had sufficient knowledge to justify the story as published, and to otherwise question it, but your implication that the story was killed as worthless, and then resurrected in an improper way, doesn't seem to be supported, at least yet, by anything actually known, as opposed to made as a j'accuse!

The story led both NBC and CBS Evening News, fwiw. Still going on about it.

Gee, Rush Limbaugh is defending John McCain. Circle the wagons, and Rush is inside, after all.

Gary: Almost anything I write contains my own assumptions, and my bias, and passes through my various filters.

I am not a professional reporter after all. ;)

Fwiw: I think that if you want conspiracy theories, the question to ask isn't who benefits now, but who might have stood to benefit when someone tipped off the Times for the first time. Iirc, that would be last November or thereabouts.

Yup, you need to read the charges, you don't know what they really were.

"Charged" is a long way from "convicted," which is itself not the same thing as "hard time."

They DID include matters that would have the average person doing hard time.

You mean like Scooter Libby did?

Ugh 7:21
amen

Will duly note, again, that when Obama was trailing Blair Hull in the Dem Primary for the Illinois Senate seat, somehow Hull's divorce proceedings, supposedly a private matter got plastered all over the Chicago newspapers. And when Obama was trailing Jack Ryan before the general election, lo and behold, Ryan's secret divorce documents were all over the papers. Obama and the folks who supported him sure were lucky!

You know what the conspiracy is? It's some editor(s) on a newspaper that thinks they can lower their standards a little for a sensational story, and just maybe, give their favorite candidate some assistance.

Yeah, I'm sure no one but Obama backers were interested in Jeri Ryan's sex life. She was a Borg fer chrissakes!

DaveC: the thing is, this seems to have been leaked in November. So the question is, who would have been interested in harming McCain then? I think it's a bit of a stretch to think it's Obama or Clinton, given that McCain really wasn't doing all that well in the primary campaign at that point. I can easily see someone trying to take him out -- for some of the Republicans, getting his (then) small portion of votes might have been key. But for any Dem., it wouldn't matter unless McCain actually got nominated.

Same problem with thinking it was Huckabee: in November, Huckabee would not have stood to gain much from McCain imploding. It might well have let someone else consolidate the national security and American greatness vote. The fact that now Huckabee could benefit doesn't explain why someone leaked it then.

I do wonder when the NYT is going to front-page the rumors about Obama and HRC. They could get just as “solid” a report out of either of those rumors.

Larry Sinclair is taking a lie-detector test next Tuesday with a well known expert. Those results will be confirmed by a second expert. Even if he fails the test, the Times should run an article framed as “just” discussing the general merits of lie-detector tests, as they did with Anita Hill years ago. Surely the question merits at least as much attention in a presidential race as it did in a Supreme Court nomination.

/snark

Let's get an honest man in the White House that is true to his word and God's.

Huckabee is President for me
www.mikehuckabee.com

Someone asked why hire Bennett. He was the one who got McCain off during the Keating incident. If this is as serious, we need more popcorn.

And, if this allows the media to remind the public of Keating, it is all to the good.

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