The Double Talk Express is oh so out of gas having already vaporized his entire campaign stash.
There are really two completely separate issues here.
First, McCain opted in to the public finance system for the primaries last year. It meant that his struggling campaign would get $5.8 million in public matching funds in March. Now that he's effectively the Republican nominee, he wants out, because the system entails a spending limit of $54 million through the end of August. He's almost spent that much already, according to the Post.
So the McCain campaign sent the Federal Election Commission a letter (pdf) earlier this month saying that he was opting out. But there's a problem. And FEC Chairman David Mason, a Republican, made it plain in his letter (pdf) yesterday: McCain can't tell the FEC that he's out of the system. He can only ask.
And the FEC, which normally has six commissioners, can't give him an answer until it has a quorum of four commissioners. It currently only has two. That's because the Senate has been deadlocked over four nominees; Democrats insist on a separate confirmation vote for vote-suppression guru Hans von Spakovsky, and Republicans insist on a single vote for all nominees.
Now... You my be wondering if this is really that serious an issue?
"Knowingly violating the spending limit is a criminal offense that could put McCain at risk of stiff fines and up to five years in prison."As a side note, and back on the lobbying/adultery stories, Hoffmania seems to think that the NY Times article about McCain's alleged affairs may be a plant:
I was kinda liking the theory that McCain himself planted the story to offset the age issue and show that he's a spry little sex poodle.The problem for McCain on that kind of gamble is that the lobbying stories are what stood out for most of the media and the Blogosphere... They are digging like crazy on the McCain lobbyists and they have already hit paydirt. This time, McCain only appears to have screwed himself if the story was a plant.
Stranger theorizes that's not far off the mark (although the motivation is quite different).
You have to look at the timing of this whole thing. By letting the legal teams hash out the release of the story for three months before acquiescing to its publication, we see the release of the story just as McCain seems poised to take the GOP monination - but still pretty far out from Election Day. Given that many TV pundits have already decided that this story will only hang around for a couple of days, all McCain needs to do is deny, deny, deny until it dies down, and presto! - he's innoculated! Any revisiting of the story between now and November - whether or not there are new revelations - will be written off by the McCain campaign as 'old news.'
But it doesn't stop there - not by a shot. Over at Politico, McCain advisor Charlie Black lets slip that after negotiating with the Times over the story for months, now they're going to cash in on it.
That's one of what we're sure is going to be hundreds of theories surrounding the timing and reason for this story. With this one, we share Stranger's intrigue of how the NY Times has vetted it with their people as well as McCain's.