I find it interesting that McCain didn't deny having a relationship with Iseman all that much, but that's not the big story since he had cheated on his first wife anyway. Still, there were plenty of inconsistencies all the way around no matter how Chris Matthews tries to spin it. Check out Hold Fast's: More on McCain’s Non-Denial Denial of an Intervention by Associates.
Marc Ambinder notes that the Times’ use of the word “associates” suggests that, in fact, the people who confronted him were not aides or staffers. He hazards that “associates” might actually be other lobbyists...
Obviously, I don't know whether or not McCain had sex with Iseman. I suppose by "what the meaning of the word 'is' is" standards, he didn't even deny having had sex with Iseman. Certainly it'd be a bit rich of McCain to get outraged that anyone would even suggest that he might engage in sexual improprieties. After all, it's well known that he repeatedly cheated on his first wife Carol, of a number of years, with a variety of women, before eventually dumping her for a much-younger heiress whose family fortune was able to help finance his political career. That's well known, I should say, except to the electorate, who would probably find that this sort of behavior detracts from McCain's "character" appeal.
Meanwhile, there's all this stuff Salter doesn't deny (because, again, it's true) about McCain's questionable ethics. He wrote "letters to government regulators on behalf of the [Iseman's] client," he "often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support," he resigned as head of a non-profit when "news reports disclosed that the group was tapping the same kinds of unlimited corporate contributions he opposed, including those from companies seeking his favor," his Senate office and his campaign are run by corporate lobbyists, etc.
At his press conference today, McCain sought to place his relationship with Iseman in the context of the contacts he regularly has with lobbyists in Washington. "I have many friends who represent various interests...particularly before my committee," McCain said. "And I had meetings with hundreds of them and various interests. And that was my job to do, to get their input."
While that argument may be technically correct, it's a political loser -- especially in a change-oriented election like this one. Obama's political rise has been fueled, at least in part, by his denunciation of the pay-to-play culture in Washington and his promise to clean up Washington if elected president.
McCain, too, has railed against special interests throughout his political life. But, by trying to defuse the Iseman questions, the Arizona senator may well have created a long-term problem for himself. This is a story that isn't going away any time soon. And we'll do our best to stay on top of it.