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    February 22, 2008

    Is McCain pulling a 'Clinton'?

    Posted by: Andoni

    We all remember Bill Clinton's famous,  "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."

    Could John McCain be playing the same kind of semantics game? The New York Times and the Washington Post are great newspapers whose editors and reporters know the importance of getting a story correct. They know their obligation to the public and to their readers; and they both have set up strict rules of scrutiny so the public can have faith that what they publish is basically true.

    Is it possible that both these great newspapers are totally incorrect in their reports on McCain's improprieties or appearances of improprieties during his 2000 campaign? The chances are slim that not one sliver of what the Times or Post reported is true. And yet McCain's denials at his press conference yesterday were unequivocal. So what else could be going on here?

    In their reporting, the Times said that its sources were "associates" of McCain and the Post claimed its information was from McCain "advisers." However, during Senator McCain's press conference yesterday, the terms used for the denials that anyone ever attempted an intervention in his relationship with Vicki Iseman were "aides" and "staff," not "associates" and "advisers" as described in the two papers.

    Marc Ambinder conjectures that these "associates" and "advisers" acting to separate McCain from Iseman might have been friends or even other lobbyists, and not "aides" and "staff." If this is so, then McCain is playing word games just as Clinton did, and the electorate will not appreciate it. It will be interesting to see how the same Republicans who took Clinton to task for playing with the truty will react if this turns out to be the case with McCain as well.

    Who do I believe here? The Times, for two reasons. First ,it has a track record of good journalism. Second, there is enough history of McCain being in bed (figuratively) with lobbyists even as he has tried to build a reputation opposite of that.

    Today's Washington Post exposes McCain's hypocrisy with respect to lobbyists by pointing out:

    [W]hen McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried.

    This cartoon by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Mike Luckovich captures problems McCain is going to have when his real record with lobbyists becomes better known. McCain's reputation as squeaky clean is all P.R. and will go the same route that Hillary's all-P.R. "inevitability."

    This McCain story is still unresolved, and I really hope more comes out from either the Times or Post to prove or disprove things. McCain's denials were so unequivocal that it will take only one small piece of the Times story to be proven true to derail his campaign. If he's caught in a lie -- even a Clinton lie -- he's done.



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    1. Geena The Transgirl on Feb 22, 2008 7:06:44 PM:

      The NY Times has added a "Talk to the Newsroom" forum on its homepage for this story. How often is that done? Not if the story meets the daily editorial standard.

      I told you the Republicans would be ready to take the field before March 3rd. The quick reaction along with the backup and unity from McCain's conservative enemies from the primaries just weeks ago, shows there's no traction for the story within the party.

      The Washington Post article also says the lobbyists in the Arizona cabin were volunteers. There's a difference between working with lobbyists and being bought out, the "lobbying culture" does not work for free.

      The part of the story with the best chance to tarnish his reputation with independents follows, "Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain's Straight Talk Express bus." That being Charlie Black the lobbyist.

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