Friday, February 22, 2008

The McCain Flap: Huckabee and Romney are still Candidates

Looking Left is a waste of time, Goopers, and you know it.

Timing, Sourcing Suggest GOP, Not Dems, Behind McCain ‘Smear Campaign’

The McCain campaign has had two months to prepare for the story published in the New York Times about his cozy relationship eight years ago with a young blond woman who happened to be a lobbyist.

The possibility that Romney’s mitts were all over this might explain McCain’s palpable antipathy toward him.

The campaign’s rapid response team put out a news release last night that twice used the phrase “smear campaign” to describe the Times story:

“It is a shame that The New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit-and-run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

“Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career.”

They have had this response in the can for two months, so it bears some scrutiny. The word “smear” is predictable but to use it twice in conjunction with “campaign” is interesting.

One news story is hardly a “campaign.” And it is obvious from even a casual reading of the Times article that lawyers have been all over it. But is there more to come? The McCain team’s use of the word “campaign” suggests there could be.

Or, it is equally likely that “campaign” is a bit of transference — that McCain and his operatives know the source of the story was a rival campaign.

Conservatives are swarming the media this morning trying to pin this story on a) Democrats and b) the liberal media. But as was noted here last night, the timing and sourcing — as well as the actions of two of the other GOP candidates — suggest the Times got the story from McCain’s conservative Republican opponents.

First, the source of the Times article can only be detected by parsing, but it is clear that the details could have only come from — and confirmed by — operatives in McCain’s 2000 campaign, all of whom, let’s assume, were Republicans. As to motive, how about sour grapes from a 2000 staffer who was not asked to work on the 2008 campaign? Or perhaps one of the 2000 operatives was an extreme-right Dittohead mole, who had a job on a rival GOP campaign when the story was originally set to run in December.

Second, the timing: Whoever leaked the story to the Times appears to have synced it to the campaign schedule so that, with fact-checking and the other vetting, the story would be ready to go around December 20 — immediately before public attention turned away from the campaigns and onto the holidays — and two weeks before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

In late December, the Democratic campaigns were focused on each other, and weren’t expending much, if any, energy on their Republican rivals. At that point, it was far from clear that McCain would become the frontrunner.

The source of the story was most likely one of McCain’s rivals. Judging by their actions, almost all of them could be eliminated except for Mitt Romney, who, as has been noted here and elsewhere, made a big show of “suspending,” not ending his campaign. (Campaigns are often technically “suspended” when they close in order to keep payroll and accounting functions open but the difference here is how Romney stressed the word “suspended” in his concession, and how that keyword was picked up and repeated over and over by Beltway pundits and newsreaders — all of whom have known about this story since before Christmas.)

The possibility that Romney’s mitts were all over this might explain McCain’s palpable antipathy toward him.

The Huckabee campaign has known about the story, too, which explains Huckabee’s insistence on staying in, despite the dead-certain odds he’ll never get the delegates to beat McCain at the convention. Huckabee has said he’s sticking around in case McCain has a “macaca moment.”

Perhaps this is it.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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