I get it, sex sells. It makes for great gossip and it moves newspapers. It gives the pundits on both sides something to rail about and wag their fingers at. It gives Americans something to be appalled at. For everyone hung up on the alleged sex scandal that McCain finds himself in, you’re missing the big picture. The issue here isn’t whether or not McCain had a romantic relationship with Vicki Iseman, its how easily McCain can be bought.
Let me say that I don’t condone on McCain did on any level. At best it’s an inappropriately cozy relationship with a lobbyist, at worst it’s an extramarital affair that might have bought a few favors for the telecom industry. The New York Times article doesn’t just point out his relationship with Ms. Iseman however, but his closeness with several lobbyists, several of whom are running his current campaign. A quote from the NYT article:
Like other presidential candidates, he has relied on lobbyists to run his campaigns. Since a cash crunch last summer, several of them — including his campaign manager, Rick Davis, who represented companies before Mr. McCain’s Senate panel — have been working without pay, a gift that could be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
In recent weeks, Mr. McCain has hired another lobbyist, Mark Buse, to run his Senate office. In his case, it was a round trip through the revolving door: Mr. Buse had directed Mr. McCain’s committee staff for seven years before leaving in 2001 to lobby for telecommunications companies.
The problem with that is that other candidates are not running on an anti-lobbyist campaign reform platform. I would hope that McCain would realize the presence of lobbyist in his campaign would be considered a bit suspect in light of his much-publicized views.
Even before the current brewing scandal, McCain was involved in another high-profile kerfuffle. A few of you might remember the Keating Five scandal that almost cost McCain his career in the late 80’s. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Wikipedia covers it in detail as does the NYT article. It’s a bit involved to go into here, but the general gist is that McCain intervened on the behalf of an influential banker “friend” to push forward deregulation legislature that led to the savings and loan crash of the late 80’s. McCain’s friend Mr. Keaton was sent to prison, and three senators lost their careers. The taxpayers lost $3.4 billion. Granted McCain has admitted to not knowing much about the economy, but pushing for legislature that almost destroyed the US banking system? That’s a whole new level of stupid. After that fiasco is when McCain reinvented himself as Mr. Reformer, dedicated to eliminating all pork and soft money from the US political system.
In light of the Keating Five scandal, you would think McCain would take pains to keep his nose clean. Not 10 years after his near-brush with career destroying, he got involved with Ms. Iseman. So much for learning your lesson. The relationship between the two was as such that advisors warned McCain to stay away from her to avoid any personal or professional scandal. The current McCain camp has argued that their relationship was nothing more than a friendly working relationship, but here is the problem with that argument:
The lobbyist, a partner at the firm Alcalde & Fay, represented telecommunications companies for whom Mr. McCain’s commerce committee was pivotal. Her clients contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his campaigns.
Mr. Black said Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman were friends and nothing more. But in 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, “Why is she always around?”
Again, at any rate, that’s bit too much for a lobbyist to be around someone who is supposedly against lobbyist. When the staff starts asking questions, its time to evaluate what this is doing to your image. Another thing you don’t have a “friend” lobbyist do; you don’t use her as a stand-in for your wife:
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.
I can’t imagine Cindy was too happy about that. Even McCain admitted this didn’t look good:
...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. 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.
I do have to ask myself why a man like McCain would keep putting himself in these potentially career-ending positions. Is it arrogance, naivete, or simply being weak-willed? Either way, it’s something that needs to be looked into before November. Neither trait is becoming of a President.