Smear job on John McCain unjustified, unless…

February 22, 2008 | By | 8 Replies More

It appears that John McCain has put himself into situations suggesting that he had an sexual affair with a 40-year-old female lobbyist.  This politically devastating information can’t possibly be relevant to the current presidential campaign, unless…

Unless McCain has long-supported a political party that has consciously decided to make sexual moral pronouncements a major and unrelenting part of its political existence, all-the-while conflating the U.S. Constitution with the Ten Commandments and spewing this mentally-stunted version of democracy in a holier-than-thou piss-on you-if-you’re-different-than-who-we-claim-to-be sort of way.  McCain, of course, is also a prominent member of the Republican serial polygamy club, another manifestation of Republican hypocrisy when it comes to alleged Republican sexual purity.

Those conservatives who get angry at seeing political smear tactics involving sexual innuendo need to shut up and take this medicine because they’ve all earned it by voluntarily associating with a political party that specializes in hypocritical villainizing (sexual, racial, immigration status, religious beliefs, you name it).  If those who are upset by the release of this information regarding McCain and Iseman want these sorts of incidents to become irrelevant, they need to tell the Republican Party (by voting) to get government out of America’s bedrooms, for starters.


[The General George Meade statute located in front of the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, D.C., created by Charles Grafley in 1927, apparently in a cultural climate much different than our own.  Posted here just for the hell of it – photo by Erich Vieth]

We’ll know that we’re cured of our obsession with the sexual practices of politicians when a politician’s private sexual choices are no more interesting to us than the private sexual choices of a sports celebrity or a famous movie director.   Can you imagine refusing to go to a movie because the director once had a marital affair?

Incidentally, private sexual conduct has nothing to do with whether a person would be a competent president.  Consider that each of the following presidents reportedly had affairs: Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy , Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland (who had a child with his mistress) and Thomas Jefferson.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg, because extremely powerful men are highly likely to have sexual affairs. It’s a fact of life, though this information often doesn’t come out until 30 years after the man’s death.  While that fact is not publicly known regarding a particular powerful living man, it is usually because he has a close-knitted circle of powerful comrades who keep that knowledge in check (for example, visit the above links and read about John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt).

The real dirt about McCain is not that he might have had sex with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, but that he spends so much time with lobbyists.  McCain, the “anti-lobbyist,” is very comfortable with lobbyists.  For instance, consider with whom McCain huddles these days now that he’s essentially wrapped up the Republican nomination:

[W]hen McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington’s lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways.


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Category: American Culture, Campaign Finance Reform, Corruption, Politics, Sex

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (8)

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  1. Erika Price says:

    It reminds me of the should-we-should-we-not conundrum of outing a closeted, married, gay Republican. By most accounts, forcibly "outing" someone violates their privacy, disrespects their personal choices, and tears apart their lives. And usually, who cares what they do in secret? Usually, the fact that a closeted person is gay (or that a straight person is sleeping around in this case) shouldn't concern us.

    But this respect for privacy seems to disappear when someone's secret doings makes them a hypocrite. If someone spends their life affiliated with a party that preaches morality and sexual temperance, most people don't think they deserve any dignity if they are found in a compromising sexual situation. I don't think I really agree with this- smearing anyone on the basis of their sexual history strikes me as a low, childish blow. And an irrelevant criticism.

    But the sheer frequency that we catch these Republicans with their pants down does quickly become compelling…I know I shouldn't care/approve of such criticism, but damn it, I do nonetheless.

    Thanks, Erich, for placing criticism in a more civilized, sensible domain.

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    Aren't Republicans the party where members are usually ousted for felony convictions, and Democrats impeached for heterosexual personal peccadilloes?

  3. If one places the emphasis on sex in an extra marital affair then it could pass as a merely personal problem, but if one places the emphasis on infidelity and violation of trust then maybe this act is more than just a personal preference, because it then reflects on the character. Just imagine finding out that your boss, whom you admire and respect, is constantly having affairs with women who are not his wife. You are aware how respectful he is towards his wife when they are together, but you know that secretly he is doing the secretary. Does this not make him somewhat sleazy and untrustworthy? Or should we regard it as a problem that most powerful men have learned to successfully compartmentalize and that does not affect their ethics in other areas?

  4. Vicki Baker says:

    I think Ms. Iseman is a disgrace to us Vicki's with an "i" not for allegedly having extramarital sex with a politician (it could happen to anyone) but for being a lobbyist for the telecommunications industry.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O Lakes, the UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae. […]

    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."

    Public Citizen, a group that monitors campaign fundraising, has found that McCain had more bundlers — people who gather checks from networks of friends and associates — from the lobbying community than any other presidential candidate from either party.

  6. Molly Ivans once responded to a question regarding the the relation between sexual fidelity and public integrity this way (roughly; I paraphrase): "It would be nice to think the two are somehow connected, but even a cursory look at history shows that they seem to have nothing to do with each other."

    For my part, I would point out that Nixon was probably pathologically faithful to Pat and damn near destroyed the government.

    Eisenhower's pecadilly was apparently a matter of unfulfilled urge—according to the woman in question (his driver in London during the war) he tried but just couldn't.

    We seem to forget that people are complex, multilayered, usually compartmentalized—one would think it ludicrous to fire an architect who had a demonstrated ability for fine work just because he had sex with someone outside marriage.

    But the question here really is the same one that involves money—did McCain grant political favors in exchange? And, further, how would you prove it?

    I'm waiting for someone to raise a spectre from the past regarding McCain that, to my mind, is far more devastating than this little piece of nonsense (and one of the reasons I have no doubt this smear comes from within the Republican Party, as it acts as a good smokescreen for what could have farther reaching consequences): anyone remember the Keating Five?

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    Here's a short and sharp video about John McCain's "Friends."

  8. Anthony Santiago says:

    The only time someone's personal life becomes important, is when they are in the spotlight (famous), otherwise nobody cares!

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