McCain–the Fair and the Unfair Criticisms

The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists

By Michael D. Shear and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 22, 2008; A01
For years, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has railed against lobbyists and the influence of “special interests” in Washington, touting on his campaign Web site his fight against “the ‘revolving door’ by which lawmakers and other influential officials leave their posts and become lobbyists for the special interests they have aided.”
But when 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. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington’s lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways.
Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O’ Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae.

McCain’s relationship with lobbyists became an issue this week after it was reported that his aides asked Vicki Iseman, a telecom lobbyist, to distance herself from his 2000 presidential campaign because it would threaten McCain’s reputation for independence.

–read entire article–

___________________________________________________________________First, the fair: In my book, it’s fair to see who’s advising a candidate. Certainly the country has had enough (or way more than enough) of the Dick Cheney secret advisory councils, meeting in a dark corner of his mind, as well as his office.

We don’t need (and one hopes will not tolerate) any more dark minds at the head of the ticket.

So, it’s fair to call out the fact that McCain has a campaign manager and political advisor, each of whom are co-founders or chairmen of powerhouse Washington lobbying firms. OK, so noted.

Next, the unfair: Every president this country has ever elected has been a philanderer, some great and some minor-league, but philanderers all. Get over it.

The false claim that John McCain had fathered a black baby out of wedlock–a smear that cost him a tight primary race against George Bush–would have disqualified Thomas Jefferson (in his case it was true).

Let’s not hyperventilate over personal moral issues that relate to sex rather than an ability to govern. A series of republican speakers of the house failed that test. An even larger series of evangelical Christian leaders failed the same examination.

Our false vision of the moral high-ground is so opaque that we impeached a sitting president for a blow-job and refuse to impeach another for a series of defining ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.‘ Crimes unknown in presidencies thus far.

And yet . . . and yet . . . we persist in holding our candidates up to the blinding light of promiscuity and shine not the weakest beam upon their indebtednesses to the powerful, the rich, the well connected.

  • Those are the failures that threaten our fragile democracy.
  • Those are the weaknesses that bring shame upon the republic.
  • Those are the discrepancies that have landed us at the brink of financial collapse and broadened an already-wide chasm between those who serve and those who eat in America.

Those failures of conscience and indebtednesses to the currently prevailing power structure are the proper avenues of inquiry for the New York Times.

That increasingly irrelevant New York Rag revels in the controversy it has roiled, basks in the temporary recognition of its once-great name by innuendo and impossible to prove negatives–the current equivalent to ‘have you stopped beating your wife?’

William Randolph Hearst is not yet dead in our national newspapering industry. The once proud, ineffably slide down that long, slippery slope to Hearst standards as their balance sheets decline. Take note, Pinch Sulzberger.

In that direction lies only the sewer.

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