A Very Special Interest
John McCain has his hands full at the moment. Allegations in today’s New York Times that he had an improper personal and professional relationship with a Washington lobbyist strike at the heart of McCain hagiography. Any hint of a sexual relationship would scandalize socially conservative “values” voters, while any trace of influence peddling would quickly alienate moderates and independents who cherish maverick McCain’s longstanding war against special interests.
Having seen John Kerry’s slow response to attacks on his war record do irreparable damage to his 2004 White House bid, the McCain campaign has responded to the lobbyist story with an all-out assault, immediately attacking the newspaper’s credibility in a variety of media outlets. While the Times piece is maddeningly vague in several respects, experience suggests that this story will not go away anytime soon. Even with McCain’s strong denial of every aspect of the article this morning, reporters will continue to dig into the subject matter for the foreseeable future, until they have explored every conceivable avenue of investigation. The problem for McCain is that, even if he is eventually exonerated of any inappropriate behavior (and The New York Times is taken to task), given the reality of how partisan warfare plays out on the internet, the whispers and innuendo will never completely disappear.

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