McCain, K Street, and Lobbying Reform

Alexander Bolton has a piece in The Hill entitledEyeing ’08, Sen. McCain courts K St..

The lede fits the headline well:

Good-government advocacy groups working on lobbying reform say their longtime ally Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has played a smaller leadership role on the issue than they had expected. McCain’s lower-than-hoped-for profile on the sensitive subject coincides with what prominent lobbyists describe as a quiet effort by his political team to court inside-the-Beltway donors and fundraisers in preparation for a possible 2008 presidential run.

As the story meanders forward, however, it gets murkier.

Though the coincidence may raise questions about why McCain is not being more outspoken about lobbying reform, a senior Republican strategist dismissed any link between McCain’s involvement in the reform effort and his presidential ambitions. “I suspect the lobbying reform isn’t tied to that,” said the strategist, who observed that it would be difficult for McCain to help forge an 11th-hour compromise between the parties or the House and Senate if he takes a staunch position at this early point in the debate. “He wants to ride in to save the day on lobbying reform.”

So, rather than self-motivated hypocrisy, it might merely be self-motivated grandstanding.

And an aide to a Democratic senator who has been heavily involved in lobbying-reform discussions said that McCain has been a stronger advocate of meaningful reform than almost every other member of the GOP caucus.

But at least the Democrats still like him.

Following that, we have ten paragraphs of back-and-forth between McCain staffers and public interest groups as to how hard the senator is really working. Then, we get this:

It may be that reformers are unfairly comparing McCain’s actions to the role he played in 2002, when he pushed campaign-finance reform through Congress despite the opposition of most of his party. At the time, McCain had recently lost his effort to capture the Republican presidential nomination and his White House hopes were considered slim.

So, it may be a case that McCain is actually doing quite a bit on this issue but just not as much as he did on campaign finance reform, which he spearheaded?

Following this revelation is the shocking news that, despite the fact that his White House hopes were considered dashed after he failed to get the nomination in 2000–even he thought he would be too old by 2008–he is in fact acting like a man who is running for president and is raising boatloads of money and traveling the country. But, then, we knew that.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.