Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

No-gossip rule applies only to Republicans
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2008

To the connoisseur of political farce, few events have been more
entertaining than the grave and serious New York Times hinting that Sen.
John McCain, presumptive GOP presidential nominee, may have enjoyed “a
romantic relationship” with a blonde lobbyist 30 years his junior. There
was folly everywhere; first, Times editors who pretended not to
understand the effects of yelling “SEX !” in a crowded political
campaign. “If the point of the story was to allege that McCain had an
affair with a lobbyist,” editor Bill Keller told his newspaper’s
ombudsman, “we’d have owed readers more compelling evidence.... But that
was not the point of the story. The point of the story was that he
behaved in such a way that his close aides felt the relationship
constituted reckless behavior and feared it would ruin his career.”
Never mind that the story’s lede described how anonymous McCain aides,
“convinced the relationship [with lobbyist Vicki Iseman] had become
romantic... intervened to protect the candidate from himself—instructing
staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away
and repeatedly confronting him.”

Translation: office gossip.

Then there was McCain himself. At a press conference, the
“straight-talking maverick” indignantly denied the newspaper’s strongest
evidence: two letters he’d written to the Federal Communications
Commission on behalf of one of Iseman’s clients, Paxson Communications,
regarding a regulatory ruling. The FCC’s chairman had depicted the
sharply worded letters as “highly unusual.”

A routine staff matter, McCain insisted. Campaign officials e-mailed a
flat denial to reporters: “No representative of Paxson or Alcalde & Fay
[i.e. Iseman] personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the
FCC.” Apparently, not even the time the senator and the lobbyist flew to
Miami together on Paxson’s corporate jet for a fund-raiser.

Oops! Within 24 hours, Newsweek unearthed a 2002 sworn deposition in
which McCain described meeting broadcast mogul Lowell “Bud” Paxson about
the FCC question. The Washington Post interviewed Paxson himself.

“Was Vicki there? Probably,” he said. “The woman was a professional. She
was good. She could get us meetings.” Also in the deposition, McCain
manfully conceded that it would have been justified for a member of the
public to say that there was at least an appearance of corruption.
“Absolutely,” he said. “And when I took a thousand dollars or any other
hard-money contribution from anybody who does business before the
Congress of the United States, then that allegation is justified as
well. Because the taint affects all of us.” Actually, McCain accepted $
20, 000 from Paxson Communications for his “reform” presidential
candidacy that year, along with lots of rides on its corporate jet and
the platonic pleasures of Iseman’s company. He describes the lobbyist as
a “good friend.” But then, that’s been McCain’s pattern ever since his
political career almost came to an end during the Keating Five
savings-and-loan episode.

“[S] ooner or later,” writes the inimitable Charles Pierce, “someone’s
going to have to break down this pattern he has of doing things
completely contrary to what he’s supposed to be about, apologizing for
it, and then getting double credit for the apology while the original
offense goes straight down the old memory hole.” But not this time,
because as Times editors ought to have realized, any attempt to apply
what this column has long described as the Clinton rules to any
Republican, much less a Republican popular with reporters, whom the
personable McCain reportedly treats as members of his campaign
entourage, was doomed to fail. According to the Clinton rules, which
also applied to Al Gore and John Edwards, and may yet affect Barack
Obama, allegations are treated as facts, sometimes even after they’re
proved false. (Google “Gore, inventing the Internet” for a classic

Over on the left, influential blogger Josh Marshall wanted to believe
that with all the horse manure the Times would eventually produce a
pony. He doubted that editors “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.” Evidently, he’s forgotten the
extended Whitewater hoax, the Wen Ho Lee saga and all those front-page
Times exclusives about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
Indeed, far from being embarrassed, McCain has emerged as a wronged hero
to conservative talk-radio hosts desperate to climb back aboard the
Straight Talk Express. You really thought Rush Limbaugh was going to sit
the election out? According to them, the same “left-wing” New York Times
that endorsed McCain in the New York primaries is now out to destroy
him. Also to the slap-happy team on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” Back in 2006,
when the Times ran a front-page story linking Bill Clinton through “the
gossip pages” to a pretty Canadian politician he’d been photographed
with, host Chris Matthews loved it. Giving McCain equivalent treatment,
however, was deeply wrong. The moral’s simple: Unprovable gossip doesn’t
belong in newspapers, period. Alas, that particular pony’s long vanished
from the barn.

—–––––•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and
recipient of the National Magazine Award.


Post a Comment

<< Home