We have smoke; do we have fire?

Breaking news:
The New York Times has set the blogosphere ablaze by alleging that John McCain behaved inappropriately (key ambiguous phrase) with a telecom lobbyist who is 30 years younger than he is. The relationship kindled concern among McCain supporters eight years ago, during McCain’s previous run at the presidency.

Best one-liner of the morning:

If it’s true, it would bump the Titanic for the world’s most perfect metaphor – sex with a Big Telecom lobbyist.

Weakest denial from the McCain camp:

Top McCain advisers, including his former Senate chief of staff Mark Salter, also say on the record that there was nothing inappropriate done legislatively.

Nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Then there’s this gem:

Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics.

Which arguably is true. But somehow it lacks authenticity, coming from the party which made such a fuss over President Clinton’s sex life, and gave us the verb “swift-boating”. You can safely assume that a Hillary Clinton candidacy would have given rise to a lot of gutter politics from the Republican camp.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Random
    Feb 21, 2008 @ 10:44:30

    Stephen,

    Isn’t this sort of thing a bit below your usual standards? Insofar as the blogosphere is ablaze about this, it’s with scorn at the NYT for just how thin their story is. Everybody involved has denied it and the NYT’s only sources are quote disgruntled staffers unquote. The only reason why the NYT’s choice of phrase was so “ambiguous” was because they simply have nothing to stand up anything substantial so they have to rely on innuendo.

    As for “weak denials” – McCain has spent much of this morning in a press conference about this. Apparently he was relaxed and confident and nobody laid a finger on him. What more do you need?

    And speaking slightly cynically, I would be very wary of the Democrats going down this road (and this isn’t a Bill Clinton reference) – after all “he’s too old and infirm to be president” and “he’s having an affair with a hot blonde half his age” are hardly complimentary messages.

    “But somehow it lacks authenticity, coming from the party which made such a fuss over President Clinton’s sex life, and gave us the verb “swift-boating”. You can safely assume that a Hillary Clinton candidacy would have given rise to a lot of gutter politics from the Republican camp.”

    Two points – are you really saying Clinton’s sex life didn’t deserve having a fuss made about it (don’t forget we are talking about proven allegations of sexual harassment and credible ones of rape here)? and secondly, for all the claims by Democrats that the SBVT claims have been discredited, no-one has yet actually been able to show which ones were untrue. Frankly, you should be wary of taking the high ground given that your side has started it this time (at least, I don’t recall any statements from McCain or the Republican sympathising media alleging without evidence moral or financial impropriety on Obama’s part).

    Reply

  2. Stephen
    Feb 21, 2008 @ 12:11:43

    Those are all fair points, Random. I think (1) it is an open question whether there is any substance to the NYT’s allegations. And, if someone is someone demonstrates that there is substance there, (2) it would be an open question whether the electorate should give a damn.

    In general, I think a candidate’s sex life is between him (or her) and his (or her) spouse. Re Clinton, the only charge that the Republicans were able to make hay with concerned Lewinski, which didn’t involve rape or even harassment, in my opinion. So no, I don’t think the Lewinski scandal warranted all the fuss. It was all very prurient.

    As for McCain, it is somewhat problematic that the alleged relationship was with a lobbyist. But I mean it when I say that the electorate will have a decision to make — if it’s true, does it really matter?

    Reply

  3. Stephen
    Feb 21, 2008 @ 12:24:05

    On second thought, you made one unfair comment. The Democrats didn’t start anything; the New York Times did. Contrary to popular belief among Republicans, the Times is not an arm of the Democratic Party.

    btw, Random: we’re heading into a general election, and I would welcome any guest posts you want to submit. I’m always happy to air points of view that differ from my own. Let me know whether you’re interested.

    Reply

  4. underdog
    Feb 21, 2008 @ 12:47:41

    one does wonder if this is John McCains’….
    “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”

    Moment….????

    naahh….

    I imagine a defimation of character suit will follow. The right honorable and just, wise leader of the Mavrick party shall triumph over these evil doers.

    By god we have a war to fight for 100 years… we cannot be bothered with petty scandle!!!

    Reply

  5. Random
    Feb 22, 2008 @ 06:24:06

    “Those are all fair points, Random. ”

    Dammit, how am I supposed to argue with you if you say things like that?:-) At this point, for all the havering in the media it seems almost certain there is no substance to it, and I’d agree that (certainly in the post-Clinton era) nobody should give a damn other than the people involved and their families.

    “Re Clinton, the only charge that the Republicans were able to make hay with concerned Lewinski, which didn’t involve rape or even harassment, in my opinion. ”

    Though it did involve behaviour which would have got pretty much any other employee of the federal government dismissed without compensation. It wasn’t the only charge however – don’t forget in the Paula Jones case Clinton was ordered to pay $850K compensation, fined another $91K for lying in court and had his licence to practice law revoked. Which certainly seems to indicate the court thought something happened. The names most commonly linked to rape allegations are Juanita Broaddrick and Elizabeth Gracen BTW, you’re welcome to google them if you want to check the sordid details, I won’t pollute the blog by posting them here.

    “On second thought, you made one unfair comment. The Democrats didn’t start anything; the New York Times did. Contrary to popular belief among Republicans, the Times is not an arm of the Democratic Party.”

    A fair point, which is why I included a mention of partisan media in my criticism – though I should have been clearer that an organisation is not responsible for the actions of all it’s supporters. I will plead in mitigation that this is a game both sides play – at least if you believe the left, FoxNews is a key player in the vast right wing conspiracy. But two wrongs don’t make a right, so I’ll take a dive on this one…

    “btw, Random: we’re heading into a general election, and I would welcome any guest posts you want to submit. I’m always happy to air points of view that differ from my own. Let me know whether you’re interested.”

    A very generous offer, and I certainly am interested. I’m better at responding to stuff other people say than generating original content (which is why I comment on blogs rather than have one of my own), but I’ll certainly see what I can do.

    Reply

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