The Strong Claim

As I've said before, the most noteworthy thing about the recent Vicki Iseman story was the cataclysmically overbroad nature of John McCain's denials, which got him into saying not only that he'd never done a favor for a company he clearly had done a favor for, but that he'd never done a favor for any lobbyist at all. You see something similar in today's David Brooks column where Brooks not only wants to defend the proposition that McCain is less lobbyist-tained than your average pol, but actually heap scorn on the notion that a rival campaign might suggest that "He’s more tainted than his reputation suggests."

This is nutty. McCain's pre-existing reputation in this regard was as a kind of George Washington meets Paul Bunyan figure. Of course McCain's more tainted than his reputation suggests and of course his opponent is going to try to point that out. But Brooks' column, like an angry McCain denial, doesn't have so much as a to-be-sure graf. At times McCain has "failed and fallen short" in his quest to make American politics utterly free of the special interests, but he's never once actually done anything for special interests.

Meanwhile, on the specific point that "If this is the record of a candidate with lobbyists on his campaign bus, then every candidate should have lobbyists on the bus" it's worth saying that putting the lobbyists on the bus is the favor. Which lobbyist would you hire, after all, the one sitting in his office somewhere promising to make some phone calls, or the one sitting on a major party nominee's campaign bus? It's the guy on the bus. That's the favor.