Thursday, February 21, 2008

The morning news shows were all a flutter this morning over the prospect that the presumptive  Presidential nominee for the Republican party, John McCain may have had an affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman eight years ago. The news guys are trying to treat it as an implied “sex for influence story”, but that aspect is so weak that the main impact seems to be to remind the voters that McCain was once a close personal friend of good old Charlie Keating, who got convicted of all matter of scandalous savings and loan dilly dalliances about 20 years ago. A Senate committee sort of cleared McCain of all that, all though they did formally question his behavior.


McCain, who was 64, to Iseman’s 32 at the time of the questionable activity between those two, brought his wife to a press conference this morning to denounce the smear campaign. This served to remind everyone that Iseman is a dead ringer for McCain’s wife (his second wife by the way, nudge, nudge).The best part of the story involved a bunch of unnamed former aids to McCain who said that they had taken it upon themselves to “save McCain from himself” eight years ago by insisting that the Senator stop showing up in public places with the blonde lobbyist. They also claim to have had a secret meeting with Iseman at the Union Station in D.C. to try to get her to stop the apparent maneuvering. McCain denies all of this and I tend to accept his version, that these grandstanding aids are simply trying to tell all of us that their vigilance saved McCain for the country by breaking up a tawdry affair. Would that Bill Clinton had had similar friends.


One particularly sanctimonious talking head (cough, cough, Matt La…cough cough) said that “they”, he and his cohorts in the media elite, had known about this story for months, but had not broadcast it. It is clear that it only came out in the New York Times today because the New Republic was about to go with a story on the fight at the Times over whether to print the story or not. As was said this morning, the Times would rather be wrong than scooped. The New Republic would have used the cover that they were not writing about a McCain affair, just writing about the media struggle over what is news and what is not news.


At any rate, the Republic has now been saved and Ms. Iseman can join the ranks of Monica Lewinski and Paula Jones as footnotes in journalistic and political history. Somewhere, probably at the National Review, someone is talking to Obama’s old cocaine supplier and we will be treated to a cool story  about that aspect of his life. It will be a lot livelier than what he, himself, has written about. I look forward to its publication and the subsequent denials and press conferences involving that too. Because it is a poor country which chooses its leaders based on the issues and how a candidate responds to them. All of us should be focusing only on the worst moments of any particular candidate’s private life. That’s how we ought to elect Presidents.


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