McCain and Clayton Williams

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Clayton Williams is a prominent person in Texas politics. Prominent enough to secure the GOP gubernatorial election in 1990. During this election campaign he said various things that decent people find abhorrent, such as joking about rape that "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it." These remarks were publicized in Texas and perhaps played a role in Williams' 1990 loss. But this is a big country, and there are lots of non-decent people out there. Thus, Williams was tapped as a fundraiser for John McCain and put together an event that was going to raise $300,00 for McCain. So far, so good -- we already know that McCain has a fondness for sexist jokes.

But uh-oh, this fundraiser was scheduled for the time period when McCain is trying to woo women disappointed by Hillary Clinton's loss by touring his love of Abba. So when the McCain campaign got asked about the "lie back and enjoy it" remark, they swiftly canceled the fundraiser.

So that was the story -- McCain cancels fundraiser. Except now it turns out that the fundraiser's not canceled and the $300,000 is still being banked, the venue is just shifting to someone else's house. But to whatever extent McCain would have owed Williams favors pre-"cancellation" he still owes him favors now. It was the bundling of the contributions, not the use of Williams' house, that was the thing of value Williams was offering McCain.

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

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