Friday, February 22, 2008

John McCain—the straightest talk money can buy

As we all read yesterday, the campaign of Senator John McCain issued a stunningly absolutist non-denial denial about allegations (and, honestly, it seem silly to call them “allegations” when there is so much documentation) that the AZ Asshole’s close ties to lobbyists have led to all sorts of improprieties. While I took great issue with the campaign’s assertion that McCain “has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests,” I have to give them credit for one possible truism:

[T]here is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career.

You see, as was really always clear—and has become unavoidably obvious over the last 36 hours—John McCain’s guiding principles boil down to befriending lobbyists, hiring lobbyists, taking money from lobbyists, and doing favors for lobbyists.

In addition to the well-documented transgressions detailed in Thursday’s New York Times article—intervening on behalf of Paxson, meddling with the FCC, the Keating scandal—the Washington Post has a follow-up that assesses the current state of affairs with the McCain Campaign:

[W]hen 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.

And it was McCain lobbyist Rick Davis that then turned around and tried to use the mushrooming influence peddling scandal to—you guessed it—raise more money for McCain. But that really shouldn’t come as such a surprise; John McCain “has at least 59 federal lobbyists raising money for his campaign.” That’s over three times the number employed by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Is that a problem? Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sure thinks so:

"The potential harm is that should Senator McCain become elected, those people will have a very close relationship with the McCain White House," Sloan said. "[That] would be very helpful for their clients, and that would give them a leg up on everybody else."

Washington lobbyists and industry insiders with a close relationship to the president? An administration staffed by people with obvious corporate interests? Does that ring a bell?

It should—it is what we’ve been suffering with for over seven years. The only difference is that George W. Bush never expressed any problems with a government run by and for private corporate interests.

John McCain, however, has based his whole career on the appearance of fighting such offenses. Americans might mistrust large corporations, but they positively hate hypocrites. Add that to the general feeling among the electorate that we are fed up with “business as usual,” not to mention the vast majorities that want to see a rapid redeployment out of Iraq, and Senator McCain pretty much stands as the modern campaign equivalent of. . . well, gosh, I’m searching for another metaphor, but I keep coming back to this. . . he’s the campaign equivalent of Satan.

OK, I’ll put it another way: John McCain is like Boss Tweed and Gen. Buck Turgidson rolled into one.

Those are quite the roll models—but, hey, McCain has quite the principles.

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