I have two thoughts on the latest scandal involving allegations that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the GOP's 2008 presidential frontrunner, had an illicit affair and inappropriate political relationship with a lobbyist approximately eight years ago. The first is that this type of personal smear is despicable. The second is, too bad. Ever since the mid-90's when New Gingrich and gang went on their venomous which-hunt and crucified Bill Clinton over his sexual indescretions, the Washington, D.C. landscape changed forever. I remember back then saying how these myopic fools failed to realize the old cliche that what goes around comes around; that someday this newfound license to ruin someone over personal matters is gonna bite 'em in the ass big time. Judging from the wave of Republican scandal since, that's exactly what happened. The Republicans changed the rules back then. Open season on your sex life. And now McCain's reaping what they sowed. And yes, I say too bad. I don't make the rules. I just expect them to apply to everyone equally.
I want McCain to be put on the same hotseat as Bill Clinton. I want him to have to look into America's collective eye and say, "I did not have sex with that woman." Let's get him on record making a panicked denial, as Clinton did, when faced with the prospect of a ruined political career and shattered family. Yes John, what goes around comes around indeed. And now it's your turn to feel Bill's pain. A very important distinction though: Bill's drawers-dropping daliances never involved providing political favors to his mistresses.
At a 9am press conference Thursday, with his yet-another-embarassed-and-publicly-humiliated Republican wife Cindy smiling tersely by his side, McCain unequivocally denied all of the allegations. So what do we have here now? One of two things is at play: either the Times had absolutely no factual basis to print this story, and has committed journalistic malpractice and will pay dearly--both in reputation AND in court--or McCain is lying through his teeth.
Regardless, can McCain recover from this scandal? Are the mere accusations enough to derail the Straight Talk Express? Will McCain, who's been playing the integrity card since the campaign began, be able to shake these allegations that he used his power seat as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee to grant favors to lobbyists and corporate America? Will this be the nail in the coffin for conservatives, already in strong opposition to his campaign? If Rupert Murdoch's right wing rag NY Post is any indication with its huge Thursday headline--McCain Shocker--McCain could be in serious trouble. Especially if further evidence surfaces after his strong denial. There's another old cliche I love: where there's smoke, there's fire. Stay tuned....
On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Thank you.