Friday, February 22, 2008

McCain sets things straight...sorry he claims things and is just taken at his word.

Is it stomach flu? Food poisoning? Who knows, but it really knocks you out of it for days. That face could to.

But McCain seems to be dodging his own troubles, thanks to the disinterest and support of the media.

The story from the NYT is sketchy at best, it does point to a history of contradiction...Sorry, a further history of contradiction.

He is uncomfortably friendly with lobbyist.

Now, in politics, you can't help having lobbyist around. And with the chairing he does in commerce, it is all the more true.

Still, he has made his name...remade his name, following the Keating Five fiasco, on taking on lobbyist and pork. But he pals around in the muck, gets uncomfortably close to people who he is making decisions on, and he brings lobbyist in to help run and to advise him now.

No contradiction?

The hell...

But not to worry McCain has come out to say it is all okay. Nothing funny happen with Iseman and his lobbyist friends are cool. So the likes of Chris Matthews are mollified and want to move on.

I love that. Conservatives find the story either too old, too sordid, or too sketchy. I can't help imagining the frothing up of Joe Scarborough's or Tucker Carlson's mouth if the name attached to this story was Clinton or Obama.

Here is a TPM look at who he has around him.


But remember that the Times piece ran under the memorably lame headline, "For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk." There's a broader point there. Set aside the issue of the nature of his relationship with Iseman, and you have the undeniable conflict of McCain, the chest-beating reformer, being so undeniably close to lobbyists. That, many have pointed out, is the real story. The man who's absurdly proclaimed that "I’m the only one the special interests don’t give any money to" is surrounded by lobbyists.

And The Washington Post, a day after it ran its own Iseman story on page one, goes with that story on today's front page under the concise headline, "The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists."

The story involves quite a roll call:

-- "His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications."

-- "His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington's lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways."

-- "Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O' Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae."

-- "McCain recently hired Mark Buse to be his Senate chief of staff. Buse led the Commerce Committee staff in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and was until last fall a lobbyist for ML Strategies, representing eBay, Goldman Sachs Group, Cablevision, Tenneco and Novartis Pharmaceuticals."

-- "McCain's top fundraising official is former congressman Tom Loeffler (R-Tex.), who heads a lobbying law firm called the Loeffler Group. He has counseled the Saudis as well as Southwest Airlines, AT&T, Toyota and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America."
McCain, of course, insists that he's incorruptible. During yesterday's press conference, he proclaimed “I’ve never done any favors for anybody — lobbyist or special interest group — that’s a clear, 24-year record.” Maybe he just keeps all those lobbyists around to test his fortitude.

The story is sketchy. But it points to a question of the veracity of McCain and how clean he really is.

TPM also looks at McCain's interactions with other lobbyist.

The question naturally arises whether anything is remarkable about this "champion of deregulation" responding to the desires of telecoms and media companies. Was it special attention or typical indulgence? When the Times took a look at McCain's actions as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee back in 2000, it reached the conclusion that McCain had frequently taken actions benefiting campaign contributors.

Iseman's client Paxson was a case in point. The company and its lobbyists had contributed $20,000 to McCain and flown him around on their corporate jet. And that was the obvious angle to the stories about McCain's letters to the FCC in late 1999: that Mr. Straight Talk Express and campaign finance reform was at the beck and call of special interests.

But Paxson was far from unique. The Times also reported that McCain had weighed in on behalf of Baby Bell telephone companies seeking to enter the long-distance business; two of those companies -- neither of them clients of Iseman -- had contributed a total of $167,000 to McCain.

So while The Washington Post reports that Iseman would frequently tout her access to McCain to other lobbyists, it's not clear at this point what remarkable favors that supposed access won her.

Will the media care more as summer comes? We can only hope.

But so far it is about the smear against him, and how he has made his all the more successful and greater. Way to go media.

And I love the excitement that appeared briefly over whether Obama should take public funding. Seems McCain is scared of trying to match the Obama small donation masses.

FEC reports for January were filed today. And, it's no wonder John McCain is so freaked about money for the general election. It's not about principle. He's got no fund raising capacity.

Matt Stoller has the McCain numbers. McCain's debts were more than his cash on hand. Not good for the GOP front runner. Overall, McCain raised $12.7 million in January and $48.7 million since he started his campaign. Barack Obama raised $36.7 in January alone and over $137 million since his campaign started. This month is going to break records for Obama, too.

Hasn't been much pick up in the media about McCain's paltry campaign war chest. But, it should cause them to question McCain's obsession with using public financing for the general election. The media eats it up, of course, without ever questioning McCain's motives.

Remember when the GOP used to be the party that raised the most money?
And Atrios reminds us of the old character of John McCain, not that anyone wants to dredge this up...not that either Clinton's or Obama's past will be dredged up?

Certainly it'd be a bit rich of McCain to get outraged that anyone would even suggest that he might engage in sexual improprieties. After all, it's well known that he repeatedly cheated on his first wife Carol, of a number of years, with a variety of women, before eventually dumping her for a much-younger heiress whose family fortune was able to help finance his political career. That's well known, I should say, except to the electorate, who would probably find that this sort of behavior detracts from McCain's "character" appeal.

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