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Is the alleged McCain scandal story fair and credible?

Back in December, just before Christmas, Matt Drudge published an item on his heavily-visited website about Sen. John McCain working feverishly behind the scenes to head off a New York Times story alleging potentially scandalous behavior on his part involving favors for companies and a possible romantic relationship with a female lobbyist.

McCain's efforts failed.

Now that McCain is the presumptive Republican nominee for president, the New York newspaper, quoting numerous anonymous sources, has published its article, which has prompted other newspapers and websites to counter with their own versions for competitive reasons. Here's the LATimes.com version.

Both McCain and the lobbyist deny any improper behavior.

According to Fox News, the New York paper's publication today was connected ...

to an impending story by the New Republic, alleging the newspaper caved to political pressures from the McCain campaign. A magazine spokesman said that article would be published online today.

Numerous websites have opened readers' forums on the subject and many of them, like us, also have qualms about the issue of publicizing news of possible scandals during election season when they are unable to independently verify the facts themselves and when the accused -- in this case Sen. McCain -- has little means to prove the negative, other than deny it.

Yet it is impossible in an online world, where the story began widely circulating Wednesday afternoon, for the existence of this story to be ignored, by the media or the senator.

Wednesday evening, the McCain campaign headquarters issued the following statement from Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker:

"It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

"Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career."

The Arizona senator is expected to address the issue at a mid-morning news conference Thursday in Ohio, where he is campaigning.

So what do you think? Is this a legitimate avenue for investigation by journalists? For discussion by political blogs? At this time in an election season? Do you find the story credible? The denials? The senator's response?

Are you, as the senator's spokeswoman suggests, "sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics"? Or has it become merely an accepted part of our partisan political system? How will it affect your political opinions or vote, if at all?

Let us know what you think in the Comments section below. Let's have a vigorous, but please make it a reasoned, discussion.

-- Andrew Malcolm

 
Comments () | Archives (15)

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I'm a Ron Paul supporter, but I think it is despicable to bring up any private affair John McCain might have had, unless it can be shown that this affected his voting or lobbying on an issue.

The fact that he supports a worldwide program of military intervention, allowed habeas corpus rights to be trashed in 2006, betrayed the anti-torture movement last week, severely damaged the first amendment by limiting the political speech that was the very thing the founders were trying to protect, and hasn't the slightest understanding of economics, ought to be sufficient reason to oppose him.

This reminds me of the Clarence Thomas hearing: a thoroughly unqualified man ended up getting confirmed because people were justifiably upset with the gutter tactics used against him in the hearings. I'm afraid this affair affair will do the same for the thoroughly unqualified Senator McCain.

Of course it is hard to reconcile firm denials with acknowledged "ethical indiscretions" (skip that lipstick) such as claiming never to have done favors for special interests despite having noted his own mea culpa for just such favor-performing, more than once in his own book.

Love.

Ya. The NY Times Hit Stuff is a good thing. It ties up all the rumors and gives an overview on the perceived negatives of the candidate.

I'd enjoy reading the one done on Mrs Clinton.

So, McCain has swum with some sharks, he's tried to better himself after embarrassing episodes.

Sounds like a beat UP... as in, they are promoting him.

I don't think of it as gutter politics, especially when the alternative is highly managed stage work by professional media consultants.... sanatised dung mostly.

We don't know the truth of this article at this time........I'm sure the New York Times held back information to see how McCain would respond........my guess is that the NYT will lower the boom on McCain shortly.

"Lobbyist" for whom? What special interest are we talking about?


Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if this is some Republican Party sponsored hatchet-job, whether it's "true" or not is irrelevant.

They don't want McCain. So! They tell Romney to lay low for awhile, 'for the good of the party'. They wait for the primary season to be almost over, and go after McCain with both guns blazing. Then at the convention, the party will pick Romney because of his "unblemished conservatism", and nooooo messy primary battle to weaken the candidate before the general election.

They aren't above rigging elections. They've done it before.

Huckabee of course has come out in defense of McCain, but that's only because he didn't get the memo. He wasn't invited to *this* tupperware party.

I'm naturally suspicious of people coming to newspapers with such neatly tied up packages. I think "tool" is the operating word here.

Talk about inappropriate relationships. Under the U.S. military's Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), the Manual for Court Martial specifies adultery as punishable by Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.

According to the New York Times (February 27, 2000), John McCain cheated on his first wife, from whom he was divorced in 1980. McCain was still in the Navy when his adultery occurred (he retired from the Navy in 1981).

How could McCain, as Commander in Chief, have the moral or ethical standing to preside over the enforcement of the UCMJ's proscription of adultery?

Well, this McCain scandal is one thing, and there is another one coming. It's actutally already out there.

The latest one is summarized as follows:

So, tying it all together:
1. The 14th Amendment and matching regulations limit citizenship to natural born and naturalized.
2. John McCain was born in 1936 in the Canal Zone to citizen parents.
3. 8 USC 1403(a) declares naturalized citizenship in 1952 on persons born in the Canal Zone to citizen parents.
4. Therefore 8 USC 1403(a) applies to John McCain at age 16.
5. Therefore John McCain is a naturalized citizen.
6. The Canal Zone was not part of the United States.
7. Therefore John McCain was not born in the United States.
8. Therefore John McCain is a citizen not born in the United States.
9. Therefore John McCain is not a natural born citizen.
10. Article II of the Constitution states to be President a person must be a natural born citizen.
11. THEREFORE John McCain is not eligible to be President of the United States under Article II of the Constitution.
12. THEREFORE John McCain should be disqualified from running for President and should be decertified and removed from all present and future Presidential ballots, and his past results should be disallowed.

See the full research findings at http://muddythoughts.blogspot.com/2008/02/panmanchurian-candidate-mccain.html and judge for yourself.

Tannim:

As much as we might like to disqualify McCain, he is considered a "natural born Citizen" by 8 USC 1401(c):


8 USC 1401(c): "a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person."

I pulled that from here: http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_citi.html

Isn't it convenient that "Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics..." I'm not saying the rumors are true, but these people are no amateurs at spinning a story. As far as violating the principles which have guided his career, it might have been more believable if they left that part out.

I'm a democrat and even I think this was a hatchet job. No on the record sources for insinuating that he had an affair? Even the Equirer does a better job.

The McCain camp's spin on this sounds an awful lot like Schwarzenegger's spinning after the L.A. Times published its groping stories -- and Clinton's spinning after Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky. Blast the media to distract attention from the truth of the story.

This is the sad state of affairs in the U.S. Someone someday may rise to cease this non-sense, but for now it's fruitful. The "fruit" of the smear is too great to resist. Why is this any less "fair" then all the cheap shots taken by Republicans at Democrat candidates?

Apparently John McCain has had occasional lapses in his behavior, like most of us. So, let's take a look at his legislative record. He has consistently voted very conservatively on almost every issue - his 2007 score on the Americans for Democratic Action scale, and his lifetime score, is 10%. Even Trent Lott has a higher 2007 score than that (15%). This is nowhere near the "moderate" range. If this record appeals to you, then back him. Otherwise, you might want to reconsider..

I say, bring it on. The American people deserve to know about politicians who've been in the gutter - "we've all made mistakes" isn't good enough when you're leading Americans to believe otherwise:

McCain is the second biggest recipient of lobbyist money & has the highest number of registered lobbyists as campaign advisers - http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/20080204/pl_bloomberg/apnpwl7xnjik.

McCain denied he ever met with wealthy broadcaster Lowell Paxson - a client of Washington-based lobbyist Vicki Iseman. He was caught in his lie - http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/24/johnmccain.uselections2008.

Vietnam Veterans dispel the myth of McCain's "honorable service to his country - http://www.vietnamveteransagainstjohnmccain.com/video_prime_viet.htm.

McCain spells trouble for America...don't buy his rhetoric.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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