What Applebaum and others miss is that the Times doesn't have to produce photographic evidence of the hot dog meeting the bun to cast suspicion upon the McCain-Iseman intimacies. If McCain were as close to a male lobbyist as he is Iseman, I'd want the Times to report it. That McCain may have voted against the interests of Iseman's clients is no vindication. Her extreme proximity to a self-styled political ethicist is.
Consider these undisputed points reported by the Times:
McCain flew on the corporate jet of an Iseman client who was seeking the senator's support. Iseman, who is a partner at the firm Alcalde & Fay, "represented telecommunications companies for whom Mr. McCain's commerce committee was pivotal. Her clients contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his campaigns." The paper also reports that "Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman attended a small fund-raising dinner with several clients at the Miami-area home of a cruise-line executive and then flew back to Washington along with a campaign aide on the corporate jet of one of her clients, Paxson Communications." Two former McCain associates anonymously tell the paper that they confronted McCain over his relationship with Iseman because they thought it was putting his career and campaign at risk. Former top McCain strategist John Weaver sent an e-mail about his Iseman worries.
Where there's smoke, there's sometimes fire. That the imperfect Times article doesn't expose a raging blaze isn't sufficient cause for condemning it. The evidence the paper provides more than adequately establishes that McCain remains a better preacher about ethics, standards, appearances, and special interest conflicts than he is a practitioner, something voters should consider before punching the ballot for him.
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