More Unforced Errors from McCain on Lobbyists
by Jonathan Singer, Mon May 19, 2008 at 08:35:27 AM EDT
Before I get to this post, I want to note my strong disapprobation of Budget Rent a Car, with which I reserved a small SUV for my drive from the Bay Area to Portland yesterday so that I could move my musical instrument, among other things, but which did not let me rent the vehicle yesterday, leaving me in the lurch, because I am 24 years of age, not 25 -- even though they knew my age when I made the reservation. As a result of Budget's actions, I had to pay nearly twice as much for a last-minute rental from another agency. Thank you Budget Rent a Car for not only not fulfilling your promise to me but for also not treating me with respect or making any effort whatsoever to remedy your mistake.
John McCain's actions keep on getting the better of him. For months and months, McCain could see this potential mess coming: Some of the nearly innumerable lobbyists for his presidential campaign, including (indeed particularly) those within the upper echelons of the organization, creating real headaches for his candidacy as a result of some of the unsavory clients they previously and even recently represented. Yet rather than try to ensure that he was running a clean campaign -- that is to say instead of living up to the image of himself that McCain has put forth to the American public (but which he has never actually lived up to) -- McCain thought he could get away with having people who had lobbied for oppressive dictatorships like the one in Burma continue to advise him without anyone noticing. Well, people have noticed and McCain has, just in the last week, been forced to fire a fifth lobbyist.
Tom Loeffler, the national finance co-chairman for Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, resigned yesterday because of his lobbying ties, a campaign adviser said.
He is the fifth person to sever ties with the campaign amid a growing concern over whether lobbyists have too great an influence over the Republican nominee. Last week, campaign manager Rick Davis issued a new policy that requires all campaign personnel to either resign or sever ties with lobbying firms or outside political groups.
Loeffler, a former congressman from Texas, is a close friend of McCain's and took over the campaign's fundraising last summer. He did not respond to e-mails or a message left on his office voice mail yesterday.
Newsweek reported that his firm, the Loeffler Group, had collected $15 million from Saudi Arabia and millions more from other foreign governments. He is listed as chairman and senior partner at the firm.
As the folks at First Read note, this was a problem the campaign should have seen coming a mile away:
Remember in February, following Romney's departure from the race, the assumption was that McCain was going to have plenty of time to get his house in order while the Democrats kept fighting, perhaps up until the convention. Well, we're potentially days away from the Dems officially having a presumptive nominee, and McCain's still dealing with staff issues. The latest is the resignation of national finance co-chair Tom Loeffler, the fifth person who has left the campaign due to lobbyist ties. Loeffler was a key guy. [...] One thing to keep an eye on this issue of severing ties with lobbyists is that McCain may get criticism from his own supporters for creating a policy that was doomed to cause him problems. Expect to see a lot more blind quotes reminding McCain that nobility on an issue doesn't deliver an electoral majority.
From my vantage, McCain's problem isn't necessarily that he should have seen this coming yet didn't. Rather McCain's problem is much more insidious: Believing that he is beyond reproach. Already in this nascent general election campaign (or pre-general election campaign) we've seen McCain play fast and loose with campaign finance and ethics laws and regulations, seemingly under the theory that because his name is on the law he can get away with anything. We have also seen it with McCain's lame attacks on Barack Obama regarding Hamas even though McCain himself not three years ago advocated for rapprochement with the Palestinian group. And we've seen it again and again and again and again with McCain's all-too-close relationship with lobbyists. Do Americans really want a holier-than-thou President who doesn't come close to living up to his own ideals?