This week “straight talking” John McCain was exposed as the liar he is and true to form, the result was a circling of the right-wing wagons to support him. It isn’t the issue of whether he snuggled up with his lobbyist gal pal that is important but rather his poor judgment when it comes to lobbyists.

The Keating scandal first suggested how blind McCain is to paid influence peddlers but we were told that he had been born again as a reformer who had learned his lesson. And then he got cozy with Vicki Iseman and that led to carrying the torch for Paxson Communications.

At Paxson’s urging, McCain wrote two letters in 1999 to the FCC on behalf of Paxson Communications urging it to move on a matter of importance to Paxson. Newsweek this week says

McCain’s subsequent letters to the FCC—coming around the same time that Paxson’s firm was flying the senator to campaign events aboard its corporate jet and contributing $20,000 to his campaign—first surfaced as an issue during his unsuccessful 2000 presidential bid. William Kennard, the FCC chair at the time, described the sharply worded letters from McCain, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, as “highly unusual.”

In response to this week’s Times article, McCain denied speaking with Paxson directly regarding the letters. In a statement, the campaign said:

“Senator McCain’s staff recalls meeting with representatives of Paxson, and staff was asked to contact the FCC on behalf of Senator McCain,” Begemen continued. “The staff relayed to Senator McCain the message from Paxson’s representatives. But we have checked the records of the Senator’s 1999 schedule and it does not appear there were any meetings between Senator McCain and Paxson or any representative of Paxson regarding the issue.”

Yet in a 2002 deposition in a lawsuit challenging the McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws, Sen. McCain said that he had been personally contacted by Mr. Paxson who requested that he write the letters to the FCC. McCain’s campaign denies that there is any contradiction between McCain’s sworn testimony and his current denial. Yet today it was confirmed by Bud Paxson himself that he met with McCain about the letters to the FCC.

McCain himself has admitted that writing the letters could reasonably raise the appearance of corruption, echoing his mea culpa over the Keating scandal lapses in judgment. The current misstep over whether he met with Paxson exposes McCain’s blind spot all over again, and this time he is caught in a direct lie.

That to me is troubling with regard to a candidate running on the “straight talk” slogan, but what is even more disturbing is that it is very clear Sen. McCain has not learned much about dealing with lobbyists. His campaign relies heavily on staffers who are lobbyists working without pay. McCain issues the all too familiar “It doesn’t affect my decisions” denial that all corrupt politicians utter, but that is a thin reed to rely upon when the candidate is caught bending the truth about something so easily checked.

Why is it that only the New York Times was brave enough to dig behind the Teflon “good guy” image? Why is it that the press is giving Sen. McCain a free pass when it comes to this campaign?

A phrase from the Nixon era keeps coming back to me. “Would you buy a used car from this man?” Not me.


  1. “That is a fair comment, Warren, yet what I do not understand is why Sen. McCain chose to deny that he had met Paxson. That is so easily checked, as it was.”

    Alzheiemers? I do not believe McCain will serve a full term. The vice presidential candidate is the one to watch for.

    — Kent Shaw

  2. That is a fair comment, Warren, yet what I do not understand is why Sen. McCain chose to deny that he had met Paxson. That is so easily checked, as it was.

    I can even agree that the insinuation in the Times article that the Iseman relationship was intimate took away from the real focus which was the Senator’s blind spot when it comes to lobbyists.

    But denying the Paxson meeting is simply absurd and makes me wonder what he thought he was hiding. That is why I wrote this piece, not just to bash the Senator for being very much involved with lobbyists. For example, no other candidate has unpaid lobbyists running their campaign, so what does that fact say about the man?

    To me it says he has poor judgment, and that is what my point is.
    Phil Hoskins

  3. I’m no McCain fan. As an Arizonan and a (very) minor politician myself, I consider him an opponent.

    I must say this, however. John may be all kinds of bad things in many peoples’ eyes, but he is absolutely NOT one to sell his principles – as much as I disagree with a lot of them.

    All of our state and federal officials listen to lobbyists. That’s why the profession of ‘lobbyist’ exists. Sometimes officials agree with a lobbyists’ positions, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they act on what they come to agree or disagree with, sometimes they don’t. That’s the reality of our political system. I don’t find anything inherently wrong with this. But it does put our politicians in a very uncomfortable position. Any time one of them agrees with a lobbyist’s position and acts in behalf of it, he/she is subject to criticism and ridicule. Why should that be so? What if the official believes the lobbyist is right? Should the official act against the lobbyist’s position just because he was lobbied?

    Get a breath of air and understand hour our system works.


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