Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Thursday, February 21, 2008

  Saint John McCain the Hermit

John McCain fell all over himself in his Toledo press conference this morning. Just as right-wing propagandists were lining up in TV studios to denounce the NYT (though not so much the Washington Post) for running a supposedly thinly-sourced story, McCain behaves so evasively that he proves himself to be one of the best witnesses for the credibility of the allegations. From beginning to end, it was a bizarre performance.

McCain says there's nothing whatever to the scandal, but admits that it will be an ongoing "issue" that he "hopes" to "resolve" over time.

But hopefully, we can get this thing resolved and behind us and move forward with the campaign...

I hope that the -- all people, all Americans will recognize that this is an issue that I hope I can get resolved and move forward.


McCain even makes the blunder of asking people to balance this allegation against his entire career in Congress, which seems to imply he should get some mulligans in the game of corruption:

But look, I have a long record -- as I said, a 50-year record; a 24-year record as a member of Congress. And I'm confident that my record will be reviewed.

There are many people who have dealt with me who are now stepping forward and talking about how fairly and objectively I ran the Commerce Committee and the leadership I've shown in many reform issues, including my opposition to earmark and pork barrel spending.

So, I'll be asking people to look at my entire record, and I think that that will stand.


In addition, McCain claims he has never spoken to John Weaver about the allegations; that he knew nothing about what Weaver told the NYT; and that he's barely spoken to Weaver in months. Pretty improbable on its face, and anyway it's contradicted by Weaver. He says he sent McCain's staff a copy of his written responses to the NYT, and adds that he still talks regularly with McCain's campaign.

I responded to the Times on the record about a meeting they [the McCain campaign] already knew about. The campaign received a copy of my response to the Times the same day, which was in late December.


Ridiculously, McCain said there's no particular reason why Weaver should have told him that Weaver met with Iseman in 1999 to tell her to back off and shut up about McCain.

QUESTION: Is that something that he should have discussed with you?

MCCAIN: No, not necessarily. I'm not his -- no, not that I would think.


McCain's not his what? His boss? He sure was at the time. This is laughably bad spin from McCain.

Furthermore, McCain claims he never spoke to the NYT as the investigation proceded.

QUESTION: Did you speak to the New York Times? And if so, what did you tell them? Did they ever say that the story was not going to run?

MCCAIN: We never tried to have any dialogue in that fashion...


When a reporter points out that the NYT says he did telephone Bill Keller, McCain then backtracks and claims the conversation was "brief", as if he had merely forgotten that attempt at "dialogue". McCain also claims at first that he didn't try to talk the NYT out of running the story, then backtracks and says he asked them to conclude it (i.e. stop the investigations).

McCain claims he had no unusual relationship with Iseman, and once again when pressed by a reporter he backtracks and admits he flew on her corporate plane.

I have ridden on many airplanes.


Perhaps most bizarrely, McCain claims his staffers never spoke to him about Iseman - though the NYT writes of repeated discussions about Iseman with his aides. McCain claims that he hasn't spoken to Iseman about the five-month old investigations, though last October he hired a high-priced lawyer, Bob Bennett, to fight the story.

All of that comes on top of his campaign's claim that nobody ever asked McCain to write those two extraordinarily aggressive letters to the FCC about a media deal in Pittsburgh, PA. In fact, McCain today explained that he stuck his nose into the FCC's business because he thought they were just working too slowly. We're supposed to believe that McCain's intervention in November 1999 had nothing to do with the fact that Iseman's client was desperate to get a deal approved in the next few weeks. It was pure coincidence.

If you believe McCain, he's practically cut off from his own staff, and his staffers are practically cut off from the outside world. If you believe McCain, there are an awful lot of sheltered, incurious and untalkative people on both his Senate and campaign staffs. It's as if they all spend their days shunning each other and the vulgar world. McCain the modern-day saint is a hermit living in his cave, and his staffers are doing their very best to emulate his vows of silence. It's a wonder, really, that they ever manage to get any business done at all.

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