Apparently a lot of politicians and media heavyweights knew The New York Times had been working on a John McCain scandal story for a long time. It's finally here:
Early in Senator John McCain's first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.
A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client's corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman's access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.
When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist's client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.
Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.
1. Did McCain actually sleep with the lobbyist? The Times more than hints that he did, but the evidence is a little thin. Several anonymous sources say his staff was worried that he had, and they are backed up by a former campaign worker who left with a lot of bitterness and a grudge. But never mind -- even if he did not sleep with this particular woman, we already know he's an adulterer, having an affair with the woman who is now wife No. 2 before abandoning crippled wife No. 1 for her.
2. The story is really just a big fat Keating sandwich -- a thin layer of sex scandal on the top and bottom and a long take on the Keating Five scandal in the middle, which makes one think the sex stuff was just an excuse to be able to rehash the stuff we already knew about McCain's often too-cozy relationship with lobbyists.
3. What was true of Bill Clinton is true of John McCain -- the stuff in his personal life does matter, the sexual escapades are not just trivial matters we should not use to judge someone's presidential qualifications. It reflects on judgment and choices and setting priorities. The Keating stuff and the potential bimbo problem both show the same disturbing thing about McCain. Whenever anybody criticizes him for anything, he gets all prickly and starts going on and on about how he has served the country with honor and how dare anybody question his integrity. But he's so sure of his own judgment that he doesn't seem to see (or care, if he does) all the conflicts of interest he gets himself into. "Look, I would never vote contrary to my beliefs, so it doesn't matter who I hang out with and what our relationship is, so shut up about it." That's wearing thin. And what does it say about someone when he's so out of control that his staff has to go to the woman and warn her off?