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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is John McCain Still "Viable?"

You can always tell when it's political season. The sex scandals come out like sunglasses on a nude beach. Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain is now the subject of a "rumored" affair with a lobbyist, according to the New York Times.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. 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 him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

The Times, you will recall, endorsed John McCain by saying he was more likable than any of the other candidates that were then running.

Can you feel the glowing love?

In a four page (online) article that spends five paragraphs spinning the rumor based speculation and then goes into two pages of giving a mini-bio of McCain before coming back to the allegations for another page and nearly a half, the Times refers only to sources who commented on conditions of anonymity.

One wonders if one of those sources might have been Captain Jamil Hussein.

Politico reports that McCain has vowed to "fight back" against the Times. With his wife, Cindy, at his side this morning, McCain firmly denied the allegations and any wrong doing, after which Cindy McCain took the microphone herself to express her "disappointment" with the Times. According to the McCain camp, there is a possibility that The New Republic pressured the Times into running the story.

The story, word of which first leaked to the Drudge Report in December, relies on anonymous sources tied to McCain who said the lobbyist was warned to keep her distance to the senator in the run-up to his first presidential bid.

In the piece, McCain is quoted as telling Times Editor Bill Keller that he never did anything unethical. Top McCain advisers, including his former Senate Chief of Staff Mark Salter, also say on the record that there was nothing inappropriate done legislatively.

McCain senior aid Mark Salter also denied any inappropriate behavior on the senator's part, stating that the Times standards more closely related "the standards of the National Enquirer."

He's not alone. Others are coming out to stand up for McCain, calling him a man of integrity and honor. The allegations and speculation center around McCain's involvement with telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman, who also denies the rumored affair, in her accompanying McCain to a fund raiser, with other clients, in Miami, and traveling with him on a corporate jet back to Washington afterward, along with a campaign aide, in 1999. McCain is also reported to have interceded on behalf of her client in the case of the issuing of an FCC license, an issuance that McCain staffers report had been held up for twice as long as the normal time for the issuance of such a license.

Let's see, a lobbyist is seen with the Senator at public events, with others in attendance, a corporate flight in which a campaign aide was present, writing a letter on behalf of a lobbyist's client, a client who had contributed thousands of dollars to McCain's campaign funds. Yup, that sounds like a sex scandal.

What is interesting is that this comes out as a public scandal in the Times when more seriously damning allegations against Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama are being ignored by the main stream media. It does not go without note, however, that in light of the Times article, Republicans are rallying around McCain. Rudy Giuliani and opponent Mike Huckabee have both spoken out in disfavor of the Times article.

Perhaps this is a lesson in the law of unintended consequences.

And, perhaps we can look at Cindy McCain and her ever present hint of a smile, and see that perhaps, indeed, John McCain is still "viable." It may very well be that he is a man who understands women (yes, this is me contributing to rumors and speculations. Bob Dole did, after all, become a spokesman for Viagra...).

Once and Always, An American Fighting Man (with tongue firmly planted in cheek)

[UPDATE] Talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have also come to the "rally" in support of McCain in light of the Times accusations of his "affair."

Limbaugh and other conservative commentators rushed to defend McCain on Thursday against a potentially damaging article in The New York Times, embracing a maverick they have often attacked.

"You're surprised that Page Six-type gossip is on the front page of The New York Times? Limbaugh asked as he began his radio show. "Where have you been? How in the world can anybody be surprised?"

Limbaugh said earlier in an e-mail to Politico that the Times article about McCain’s relationship with a female lobbyist was a clear case of "the drive-by media ... trying to take him out."

Laura Ingraham, another influential conservative radio host, asserted that the Times waited until McCain was on the brink of the Republican presidential nomination and now is seeking to "contaminate" him with an article that she calls "absurd" and "ridiculous."

Isn't it funny how a little thing like a sex scandal can bring all the family home to the dinner table?

GOD I love keeping up with politics!