original New York Times: report
and a response:
The NRA and the ACLU both can't buy ad time in the days before an election because doing so, by virtue of the ethical senator's own philosophy, is manipulating the people and hurting democracy. But when McCain hops a flight with a campaign contributor, it ought to be obvious that he's maintaining his integrity. Why is it that associations comprised of every day citizens are suspect, but a powerful politician is not?
Sure, it's a bait and switch. But it's a very good one because it demonstrates the very problem presented by the John McCain School of Ethics. This is not a story about what happened. It's a story about what could have happened. What was feared to have happened. What, it must be assumed in good faith, did not happen. Campaign advisers were afraid that "the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity."
While it's clear that supporters and passers-by will dismiss the Times report as overblown in its importance (and, of course, heap onto theTimes for being incautious about its use of sources), the dredging up of areal ethics flap will not help a man who has made ethics a cornerstone of his campaign. But the story might have a few positive effects after all.
Conservatives will likely rally for McCain. McCain will have the opportunity to show just how comfortable he is with transparency and talk to the press in a way that Americans will appreciate. He'll have a chance to highlight his record as a reformer in Congress. And the New York Times's public editor, Clark Hoyt, will have a very entertaining column attempting to explain what happened.
I know one Conservative that will not rally for McCain. He's getting a bit of poetic justice from his friends. They endorsed him for the Republican nomination. He's their guy, not mine. He doesn't trust the public to be able to make up their own minds around election time. Unfair ads could somehow cause them to make the wrong decision. We have to limit free speech to protect the public. Except newspapers -- they serve the public good, they don't have a political agenda, they can say whatever they want, whenever they want. And the "special interests" should not have the right to respond.