McCain and Iseman

Well, The New York Times's article on John McCain's relationship with Vicky Iseman sure did make Mark Salter mad. It's often unclear at times, however, what exactly Salter is trying to say. The Times story is a bit odd and innuendo-y, hinting at a sexual relationship between McCain and Iseman but they clearly don't have the goods. Salter says McCain spoke to New York Times editor Bill Keller and "denied any personal 'romantic' involvement with Iseman, and said that he did not 'betray the public trust.'"

Obviously, I don't know whether or not McCain had sex with Iseman. I suppose by "what the meaning of the word 'is' is" standards, he didn't even deny having had sex with Iseman. Certainly it'd be a bit rich of McCain to get outraged that anyone would even suggest that he might engage in sexual improprieties. After all, it's well known that he repeatedly cheated on his first wife Carol, of a number of years, with a variety of women, before eventually dumping her for a much-younger heiress whose family fortune was able to help finance his political career. That's well known, I should say, except to the electorate, who would probably find that this sort of behavior detracts from McCain's "character" appeal.

Meanwhile, there's all this stuff Salter doesn't deny (because, again, it's true) about McCain's questionable ethics. He wrote "letters to government regulators on behalf of the [Iseman's] client," he "often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support," he resigned as head of a non-profit when "news reports disclosed that the group was tapping the same kinds of unlimited corporate contributions he opposed, including those from companies seeking his favor," his Senate office and his campaign are run by corporate lobbyists, etc.

Meanwhile, there's a storm of speculation surrounding the Iseman story, which continues to be a weird lede for the piece, and we'll have to see what else comes out.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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