vj2.thumbnail.jpgI’ve been watching cable news all morning and one of the things that strikes me is that they don’t seem to grasp what the McCain/Iseman story is about. If this was just about Botox McCain getting lucky with some skinny lobbyist the campaign would probably be delighted to have it in the headlines to combat the "he’s too old" meme that’s gathering steam. It’s not. It’s about his relationship with a telecom lobbyist who boasted about her ability to professionally influence him in business situations, and whose lobbying interests McCain has taken clear action to help. It undermines all his "straight talk" crap about not taking money from lobbyists, which is why the campaign staff took action to keep her away from McCain:

John Weaver, a former top strategist and now an informal campaign adviser, said in an e-mail message that he arranged the meeting after “a discussion among the campaign leadership” about her.

“Our political messaging during that time period centered around taking on the special interests and placing the nation’s interests before either personal or special interest,” Mr. Weaver continued. “Ms. Iseman’s involvement in the campaign, it was felt by us, could undermine that effort.”

Mr. Weaver added that the brief conversation was only about “her conduct and what she allegedly had told people, which made its way back to us.” He declined to elaborate.

It’s Weaver’s word versus McCain’s word at this point. According to TNR:

[Weaver] adds that he talks with the McCain campaign every day, and that the campaign knew about his contact with the Times immediately after it happened. Weaver emphasizes that his only concern about Iseman was that she allegedly had been bragging around town about her influence with McCain (which is also how I read his quotes) and nothing more.

McCain, meanwhile, claims he knew nothing about Weaver’s encounter with Iseman:

Mr. McCain said he knew nothing about an account in The Times from John Weaver, a former top strategist and now an informal campaign adviser, who told the newspaper that he met with Ms. Iseman at Union Station at the time of Mr. McCain’s first run for president in 1999 and told her to stay away from the senator. “I don’t know anything about it,” Mr. McCain said. “Since it was in The New York Times, I don’t take it at face value.”

Reallly? That’s pretty amazing, considering the campaign has been trying to spike the story since December.

The whole thing makes McCain look bad, like some old mouthpiece they wheel out to harumph about special interests and terra terra terra but doesn’t really get much say about who he’s allowed to see or what’s going on.

All this pearl clutching on cable news, accusing the Times of "poor sourcing" in a sex scandal really misses several key points, not the least of which is that the part of the story they’re obsessing about (alleged sex) isn’t really the story at all.