The Times’ story on John McCain’s alleged affair with a lobbyist during his last presidential run crashed into the political discussion today like a flaming satellite tank filled with toxic innuendo and accusations. People are wondering a few things: What will be the effect on the Republican race and general election? (See our incisive post on what this says about Mike Huckabee having stuck in the race.) Is the Times really sure about their story, considering that the main sources are two unnamed former staffers? And, finally, is there anything they left out — maybe something specific, preferably salacious? As it stands now, the story amounts to a cruel tease — cruel to us, who want the whole truth and nothing but (and have gathered much of it in the 2008 Electopedia, newly updated with entries on the presumptive Republican nominee!), and cruel to McCain, who is no doubt praying for some fireworks in the Democratic debate tonight to push this down in the news cycle.
• David Frum thinks the Times story could unite the Republican base behind McCain, considering the liberal reputation of the paper — but only, of course, if the allegations prove false. [National Review]
• Noam Scheiber thinks Barack Obama may be the luckiest man in history, this being the third sex scandal to hit one of his opponents in his short political career. [Stump/New Republic]
• Christopher Orr wonders whether those conservatives who have always had it in for McCain will relish the allegations. [Plank/New Republic]
• Jonathan Martin and Michael Calderone report that some big conservatives and McCain skeptics are already supporting the senator, including Sean Hannity and Rich Lowry. [Politico]
• Josh Marshall pretty much gives the benefit of the doubt to the Times and thinks there’s a lot of this story that was cut out. [Talking Points Memo]
• Ezra Klein says the Times should prove that McCain had an affair with and did favors for Iseman, not just allude to them. [American Prospect]
• Matthew Yglesias seconds that. [Atlantic]
• Marc Cooper says that the Times released this at the most favorable time possible for McCain. Had it been released in December, which it could have been, it would have ended McCain’s campaign. [HuffPo]
• Mark Halperin posits ten questions that “insiders” are asking about the story right now, including, “What is Mike Huckabee thinking?” Our guess: “I’m smarter than you all thought.” [Page/Time]
• Mary Katharine Ham doesn’t think there’s anything more to the story and that conservatives will rally around McCain. [Town Hall] —Dan Amira
Did you know that John McCain once dated a dancer named “Marie, the Flame of Florida” and that his high-school clique was known for doing “deliciously unimaginable things with women”? Find out about all that and more by browsing the 2008 Electopedia!