Archive for February, 2008


A long look at John “greasy palm” McCain

February 24, 2008

Left and right, commentators appear to be in agreement that the NYT made a lousy call placing the emphasis in its McCain story on the rather slippery rumors of “romantic” overtones between the Senator and the Siren.

I am not so sure of that, myself. Yes, the bimbo eruption was, and is likely to remain, more of a bimbo squib. And even if true, it pretty much has zero relevance to McCain’s qualifications for the Oval Office. The real story lay in which bankbooks, not which babes, may have been cozying up to him.

But a page A-1 New York Times story indicating what everyone in the media and everyone in Washington knows, but virtually none have been willing to say – that McCain is up to the tips of his last wisps of hair in lobbyists; that he is awash in contributions from the very industries controlled by the committee he chaired for so long – would have raised a splash as resounding as a mayfly dropping into the Atlantic Ocean. Not so when someone yells “Sex!” in a crowded political theater. Decry it as you will, ears then prick up for miles around.

Now the pairing of “John McCain” and “lobbyist” has begun to light up a few synapses in that ever-sluggish neural network we tend to call, in a triumph of hope over experience, our “news” media. If the lights don’t fizzle out, Ms. Iseman’s gift to the nation may be a more balanced picture of the (monetary) kinks in the Straight Talk Express.

I have Harpers’ Ken Silverstein to thank for calling my attention to the fact that one of our more established Republican-friendly print organs, U.S. News & World Report, blew the whistle in May of ’07 on the Commerce Committee chairman’s financial dependence on the special interests he was regulating. There’s no blazing quid and smoking quo, of course. Up until the apotheosis of Tom Delay, our legislators have been adept at keeping their moneyed clients happy without getting too egregious about it. But Honest John was always happy to take the money.

I have to admit, the specific examples the article mentions (McCain’s support for gentler regulation of satellite broadcasting, easing of export restrictions on encryption, and a la carte options for cable subscriptions) all sound to me like good public policy. But the article is worth it for its documentation of the volume of the money river, and for the many googleable names of which contributors lined up to blow ki$$es to McCain while his campaign last year was trying (and failing) to get the wind in its sails.