Thursday, February 21, 2008

One Last Time (Today) On The McCain Thingy (UPDATE)

I have now read both the Times and Post stories, and I have to agree with the folks at TPMCafe that the Times story doesn't have a whole lot of "there" there, at least as far as the question regarding any alleged infidelity is concerned.

On the other hand, the Post story is pretty clear that the question is one of undo influence by a lobbyist over a member of the United States Senate. That seems far more important, indeed vital, especially in light of the pushback already underway on the right. By muddying the waters with allegations of sexual impropriety without any substantive content to them, while making substantial allegations of improper influence - especially upon a politician who claims to be working against such undo influence - creates a situation in which the story can be spiked, effectively, by making sure our eyes are on the mud, rather than the water that should be clear.

In short, this whole thing might end up helping McCain (although, right now, I don't see how, exactly) by creating sympathy for him. On the other hand, if it starts a conversation on what a hypocritical liar McCain has always been on the question of lobbies, lobbyists, and his position in regards such entities, it's all good. I think we need to drop the whole sex thing and maybe, just maybe, concentrate on the far more troubling question of what, exactly, McCain got for his little letter on behalf of Paxson.

UPDATE: It seems the first half of the first sentence in the last paragraph above is coming true (please see the link; please). May I just add a couple points? First, one wonders if this wasn't some far more complicated move on the part of Republican operatives; that is, get the sex angle up front, providing enough cover to discredit the entire thing. Kind of like the whole Dan Rather/60 Minutes brouhaha back in '04, in which the authenticity of certain documents became the focal point of the larger story, rather than the question of Bush's status in his final years as a Reserve pilot. Indeed, the authenticity of the documents has not, to my knowledge, ever been conclusively disproved. Rather, the waters were made murky by a few right-wingers who shouted long enough, repeating the same thing over and over again, forcing action on the part of CBS. Once again, I do believe we have a good, solid story being used in a way that is the exact opposite of its actual content. Very odd.

Second, the turn-around on this entire story is a lesson in the way the news cycle is working in these days of the internet and the 24-hour "news" shows. Rather than taking weeks to develop a counter-strategy, McCain was out there this morning, and his political allies - and opponents - already have good, solid strategies in play to work this story in their own particular directions. This story might actually seem old by tomorrow.

Virtual Tin Cup

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