McCain's Not Unhinged!
His bullying is tactical.
b) The Scandal-is-What-isn't-Scandalous Dept. Part I: From the NYT story:
The McCain aides said the senator sided with Ms. Iseman's clients only when their positions hewed to his principles.
A champion of deregulation, Mr. McCain ... introduced a bill to create tax incentives for minority ownership of stations; Ms. Iseman represented several businesses seeking such a program. [E.A.]
How is introducing this bill in keeping with McCain's deregulatory or deficit cutting instincts? There is no more fetid swamp of corrupting government favoritism than the FCC's minority ownership programs. And tax incentives aren't really all that different in their budget-gutting effect from earmarks, are they? If those are McCain's principles ...
c) Part II: This paragraph from WaPo's follow up seems like a small fire in itself:
At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach.
That was normal practice? Isn't it less damning if he did it for love?
d) McCain's License to Lie: McCain seems convinced that his wartime heroism and general righteousness make it OK for him to lie in bullying fashion when he really has to (e.g., when he needs to pretend that under his immigration plan illegal immigrants would "not be in any way rewarded for illegal behavior"). That could be what's happening here too. ... Of course, as Michael Kinsley (and one of my emailers) has noted, sympathetic liberal reporters perversely give McCain straight talk points when he lies. That could happen here as well. ...
Backfill: Jack Shafer has already made many of these points. ...
**--The NYT describes these sources as two "former associates" of McCain. The text here originally said "aides." WaPo reports that "[m]embers of the senator's small circle of advisers" confronted McCain. McCain denies that the confrontation took place. ... 3:37 P.M. link
'I Was Nowhere Near Milwaukee': Now that he's safely won Wisconsin--a state relatively friendly to school vouchers-- Obama genuflects to the teachers' unions by denouncing "misleading reports that Senator Obama voiced support for voucher programs." ... If you were in the mood to grasp at straws in Obama's defense--i.e. the mood I'm in, don't know about you--you would note that this isn't a Full Grovel,** which would involve retracting, rephrasing or apologizing for the Obama statements that suggest an openness to vouchers (if evidence turns out to support them). Instead, Obama's campaign merely calls "out of context" and emphasizes the anti-voucher aspects of his platform. That seems more like the Minimum Necessary Grovel to keep the National Education Association happy while preserving Obama's freedom to reverse his "longstanding skepticism" in the future. ...
Photograph of Ann Coulter on Slate's home page by Brad Barket/Getty. Photograph of a wedding cake with two grooms on Slate's home page by Hector Mata/AFP Photo. Photograph of Princess Diana on Slate's home page by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.