The Straight Talk Express

I haven’t devoted much space to the latest allegations regarding John McCain. The question of whether he had an affair is receiving the most coverage, and the mainstream media will continue to discuss that one. I’m not sure the story really will go very far if both sides deny it. The far more interesting aspect from a long term political perspective is McCain’s relationship with lobbyists and the favors he might have provided.

Stories like this are not always best for the blogosphere as many rumors and denials typically fly and it takes some time to sort out what is really true. While I’m holding off on any overall conclusions as to what this says about McCain one news report which I must note. The Washington Post looks at McCain’s relationship with lobbyists and feels they are essentially running his campaign:

A common career path for political operatives is a lucrative job at a Washington lobbying firm that allows them to continue campaign work, and McCain is hardly the first candidate to draw on that talent pool. The campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has been aided by lobbyists Harold Ickes and Mark Penn, who heads Burson Marsteller Worldwide. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been advised by former senator Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), who is not a registered lobbyist but advises clients about Washington.

In McCain’s case, the fact that lobbyists are essentially running his presidential campaign — most of them as volunteers — seems to some people to be at odds with his anti-lobbying rhetoric. “He has a closer relationship with lobbyists than he lets on,” said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “The problem for McCain being so closely associated with lobbyists is that he’s the candidate most closely associated with attacking lobbyists.”

An example is given of the relationship between McCain and one lobbyist. McCain’s chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of BKSH and Associates which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways. Note the final line of this excerpt (emphasis mine):

Of all the lobbyists involved in the McCain campaign, the most prominent is Black, who has made a lucrative career of shuttling back and forth between presidential politics and big-time Washington lobbying. He has worked for the campaigns of former congressman Jack Kemp (N.Y.), former president George H.W. Bush and former senators Phil Gramm (Tex.) and Robert J. Dole (Kan.), all Republicans.

“I’ve spent a fair amount of my life as a lobbyist, but I’ve spent a majority of my adult life running Republican political campaigns,” Black, 60, said.

His relationship with McCain, for whom he is a senior adviser, goes back more than two decades, from the time McCain first came to Washington. They got to know each other well during Gramm’s 1996 presidential run; Gramm, now an investment banker, is a major supporter and adviser to McCain.

But even as Black provides a private voice and a public face for McCain, he also leads his lobbying firm, which offers corporate interests and foreign governments the promise of access to the most powerful lawmakers. Some of those companies have interests before the Senate and, in particular, the Commerce Committee, of which McCain is a member.

Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain’s Straight Talk Express bus.

Remember Dick Cheney’s energy task force? Are there any doubts as to who will be setting the agenda should John McCain be elected?

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    printguy says:

    McCain will, at every turn, subvert the American, dream by sending jobs to China, give employers free pass to hire illegal immigrants, leave our troops in an illegal war in Iraq for the next 10o years for oil that will peak in the next 10 and continue to sell out to corporate Amirika.

    I have studied Teddy and McCain is NO Teddy!

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