I don’t know what to make of the New York Times' supposed expose of John McCain’s relationship with a female lobbyist in 1999 when he was preparing to run for president. When you read deeper into the story headlined, “For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk," you find there is no chocolate center to the would-be journalistic confection of campaign scandal.
McCain used to chair the Senate committee with the largest jurisdiction over American life than any other, and he was, naturally, a magnet for lobbyists of all stripes. Was he a babe magnet, too? That seems to be the implication of the Times story, but with no there there. There was an implication, an innuendo, that he met a beautiful woman, not in the lobby but in the presidential suite, so to speak.
The story apparently was ready for publication before the New Hampshire primary but was withheld, presumably, because it was not journalistically complete. What today’s story reads like makes you wonder what would have run earlier, which surely would have destroyed McCain’s campaign at the start of the primary season.
Running the story now based on anonymous sources from his previous campaign and displayed as a “soft” feature makes little sense because there is no loaded gun, not even a water pistol. The worst one might think is that he is a hypocrite for basing his campaign and public persona on cleaning up influence-peddling in Washington and yet repeatedly meeting a lobbyist, whose business requests he apparently rejected.
As this is written, there is a suspicion that the Times ran the story because it was about to be excoriated by other publications for withholding the piece.
McCain was admirably savvy and politically smart by holding a news conference early today where he calmly denied just about everything, except that it was Thursday.
But the really interesting thing to me is how often in both public and private affairs when there is “another woman” involved (right), she looks pretty much like the first woman, or in McCain’s case the second wife.