One of the biggest challenges with the McCain lobbyist sex and corruption story with the Beltway press is that they will have a tendency to think it’s just about the sex. This is particularly odd because McCain has branded himself as an anti-lobbyist, anti-corruption politician. The existence of corruption in McCain’s life should be the automatic focus of journalists covering this scandal. But, of course, it’s not. Michael Scherer of Time’s Swampland completely misses the point in an effort to close the news cycle on the McCain-Iseman scandal:
With the world still sorting through the implications of the lady lobbyist sorta-scandal, John McCain got back on the trail today as if nothing had happened–a 30-minute town hall in Indianapolis, followed by about 30-minutes of questions from the audience, and nary a mention of the New York Times story. (Before he was introduced, someone on the stage did make a joke about canceling his Times subscription.)
After no one in the audience brought up the issue, the national press tried to keep it alive, by asking him about his campaign’s assaults on the Times. McCain did not bite. “I do not have any more comment about this issue,” McCain said, noting that he had answered questions about the Times story Thursday morning. “I do not intend to address the issue further.”
And it seemed to work. As is his traditional style, he stood for quite a while answering questions from the press on other issues, from the economy, his outreach to the black and youth vote, the recent FEC opinion on his ability to decline public financing, and the number of lobbyists working on his campaign. “These people have honorable records,” he said of his staff. [Emphasis added]
Um, Michael – that last line there is part of this scandal. This is about the influence lobbyists have on his campaign and the relationship lobbyists have to his policy decisions. Saying that McCain moved on and did not answer questions about the lobbyist-sex scandal is just not true.
McCain can duck questions about the sex side of the scandal. He’s clearly proving adept at it, while the press doesn’t seem too interested in stopping him from dodging their questions. But the discussion of lobbyists on his campaign and in his life is part of the same story as the sex. For evidence of this, note the strong efforts by liberal bloggers yesterday to shift the focus off of the sex and onto the corruption. Other than McCain’s propensity to lie about sex (hardly a big sin), this is a story that reflects poorly on McCain because of the influence he has allowed lobbyists to have on him.