Monday, February 25, 2008

what that Clark Hoyt article said

With something approaching 3,000 e-mails streaming in—most of them apparently critical of the New York Times' publication last week of a story detailing John McCain’s dicey relationships with Washington lobbyists—it was not a surprise that the Times’ Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, would address the issue in his Sunday column. The piece, titled “What that McCain Article Didn’t Say,” chides the paper for leading with charges of a sexual relationship between McCain and telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman that could not be confirmed by an on-the-record source—but that was only part of the story. While every Republican mouthpiece does cartwheels in the media over what they would like to believe is the total takeaway from Hoyt, now would be a good time to recap one of the most important things that the article did say.

The pity of it is that, without the sex, The Times was on to a good story. McCain, who was reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee in 1991 for exercising “poor judgment” by intervening with federal regulators on behalf of a corrupt savings and loan executive, recast himself as a crusader against special interests and the corrupting influence of money in politics. Yet he has continued to maintain complex relationships with lobbyists like Iseman, at whose request he wrote to the Federal Communications Commission to urge a speed-up on a decision affecting one of her clients.

Much of that story has been reported over the years, but it was still worth pulling together to help voters in 2008 better understand the John McCain who might be their next president.

While Hoyt might have been guilty himself of burying the substance—this passage comes toward the end of his column—it is no less substantial. At the end of the day, whether or not Iseman literally crawled into bed with McCain, the Senator maintains many close relationships with corporate lobbyists, and had a noticeably close one with Iseman. At Vicki Iseman’s behest, John McCain intervened on behalf of her clients and sought to influence government policy. Those corporate clients also gave large donations to McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign.

Sex or no sex, the traditional insider politics practiced by Senator McCain insures that we all get screwed.

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

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