World Affairs Brief, February 22, 2008. Commentary and Insights on a Troubled World.
Copyright Joel Skousen. Partial quotations with attribution permitted. Cite source as Joel Skousen’s World Affairs Brief
McCAIN BOMBSHELL FINALLY DROPS
Establishment newspapers have been investigating this story for months and holding it back until now. The why is a story in itself, which I will cover shortly. First, the NY Times is holding back the most damaging source testimony, perhaps to protect McCain and allow for a credible denial. The indiscretions occurred eight years ago while McCain was running for President the first time. Here are excerpts from the NY Times revelations [my comments in brackets].
“That February , Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman attended a small fund-raising dinner with several clients at the Miami-area home of a cruise-line executive and then flew back to Washington along with a campaign aide on the corporate jet of one of her clients, Paxson Communications. By then, according to two former McCain associates, some of the senator’s advisers had grown so concerned that the relationship had become romantic that they took steps to intervene [note, they leave out names of the sources, for now, so as to allow the McCain campaign to question the validity of the story].
“A former campaign adviser described being instructed to keep Ms. Iseman away from the senator at public events, while a Senate aide recalled plans to limit Ms. Iseman’s access to his offices. In interviews, the two former associates said they joined in a series of confrontations with Mr. McCain, warning him that he was risking his campaign and career [no such warning would have occurred unless both had seen McCain entangled in romantic activity on the plane]. Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman. The two associates, who said they had become disillusioned with the senator, spoke independently of each other and provided details that were corroborated by others.”
The McCain campaign reacted predictably with outrage and denials, claiming the NY Times was guilty of shoddy journalism more appropriate to the National Inquirer. But there is method to this kind of reporting. This could have been a shot-across-the-bow tactic with the tacit threat that actual statements by the two sources could be later revealed. These statements would certainly be more graphic and more damaging to the Senator. Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly says Josh Marshall [well known Leftist blogger at Talking Points Memo] agrees that the NY Times is holding back:
“Josh Marshall thinks there’s more here than meets the eye: At the moment it seems to me that we have a story from the Times that reads like it’s had most of the meat lawyered out of it. And a lot of miscellany and fluff has been packed in where the meat was…..I find it very difficult to believe that the Times would have put their chin so far out on this story if they didn’t know a lot more than they felt they could put in the article, at least on the first go….Equally telling is the McCain camp’s response and their clear unwillingness to address or deny any of the key charges of the piece. (Read the statement closely. It’s all bluster.)
“Radar reports that the Times, which has been chasing this story at least since December, only published now because it was forced into it: According to [campaign advisor Charles] Black, the Times only went with the story now because The New Republic (TNR) was set to run a piece next Monday about internal dissensions at the paper over whether to run the long-held article.”
The New Republic is also an establishment paper and was anguishing over how to protect McCain and still not lose a big scoop. We also have to keep in mind that the NY Times has already come out and endorsed McCain for the Republican nomination and they did so while they were in possession of these damaging statements by former McCain staffers. If they really wanted to kill the McCain campaign, they would have told all before the endorsement. My analysis is that the Times is playing the role of spoiling the story for future use by McCain’s enemies within the conservative wing of the Republican party, as well as the Democratic Party. By revealing it now, in its mildest form, they allow McCain to come out in a press conference full of indignation.
In essence, by offering up the story in minimalist form, they allow it to be written off more easily and dismissed. A blogger on CNN named “RK” said it best: “I believe the NYT has elicited the precise response they were aiming for, A rallying of support for a candidate they endorse. The credibility of the ‘accusations’ are non existent [actually, the credible parts were simply withheld]. This is a carefully calculated media maneuver.” If anyone tries to bring it up later, McCain and his defenders can always say, “That’s old stuff that has already been resolved.” This is precisely what they did to sanitize the various stories of George W. Bush’s moral indiscretions and his shoddy National Guard service.
The LA Times revealed that McCain may have protested too loudly in his denial. “McCain, who is on the verge of clinching the GOP nomination for president, denied categorically that he had ever had a romantic relationship with Iseman or that he had ever done anything that would ‘betray the public trust’ or give undue favor to lobbyists. He also said his staffers never told him they were concerned with the relationship.'” How can John McCain, with his known role as one of the Keating Five Senators, claim he would never betray the public trust or give undue favor to lobbyists? That’s what the Keating Five Savings and Loan scandal was all about–five Senators, including McCain, received large campaign contributions in exchange for pressuring federal bank regulators to ease off on investigating Keating’s role in the failed Lincoln Savings and Loan.
But, it’s that last statement, claiming he was never warned by staff about Iseman, that the Times could make hay with. The Times has the testimony of two former staffers who say they did warn McCain. If the Times wants to paint McCain as a liar, they can certainly do so, but I don’t think they will. If the Times doesn’t pursue this, to me it will be proof of intent to sabotage this scandal and not see it through.
But for McCain, this isn’t a slight lapse or one time occurrence. McCain is a serial adulterer, from his sordid history as a Navy pilot on the prowl, to cheating on his wives after his return to the US as a phony war hero and POW. As Patrick Briley wrote, citing various sources with first hand knowledge, “McCain molested a MIA’s wife (that many POW/MIA families know personally) in the mid 1980s while McCain’s second wife, Cindy, was giving birth to one of their children [McCain had also had an affair with Cindy while still married to his first wife-yet she defended her husband and assured all that he would never dishonor his family. What depth will a potential first lady stoop to protect her roving husband?]. McCain has publicly admitted to having extra martial affairs during his first marriage. John McCain’s biographer Robert Timberg has listed and documented McCain’s sexual affairs with his military subordinates when he was an Executive Officer and as a Squadron Commander.”