Another Anti-McCain Bombshell Fizzles Out

Is This All They've Got?, Part II: NYT investigates McCain's ties to developer, finds nothing, runs it on the front page anyway.

Another McCain bombshell fizzles?

Tuesday's front-page story by David Kirkpatrick and Jim Rutenberg, "A Developer, His Deals and His Ties to McCain," is concerned with the apparently disturbing favors the Republican candidate granted to Arizona real-estate developer Donald Diamond.

It's a familiar template, one the Times employed last February, to disastrous results - for the Times.The new story, while not as inflammatory as the paper'shit pieceonMcCain's alleged romantic relationship with a lobbyist, is just as devoid of evidence of wrongdoing.

A longtime political patron, Mr. Diamond is one of the elite fund-raisers Mr. McCain's current presidential campaign calls Innovators, having raised more than $250,000 so far. At home, Mr. Diamond is sometimes referred to as "The Donald," Arizona's answer to Donald Trump - an outsized personality who invites public officials aboard his flotilla of yachts (the Ace, King, Jack and Queen of Diamonds), specializes in deals with the government, and unabashedly solicits support for his business interests from the recipients of his campaign contributions.

Mr. McCain has occasionally rebuffed Mr. Diamond's entreaties as inappropriate, but he has also taken steps that benefited his friend's real estate empire. Their 26-year relationship illuminates how Mr. McCain weighs requests from a benefactor against his vows, adopted after a brush with scandal two decades ago, not to intercede with government authorities on behalf of a donor or take other official action that serves no clear public interest.

In California, the McCain aide's assistance with the Army helped Mr. Diamond complete a purchase in 1999 that he soon turned over for a $20 million profit. And Mr. McCain's letter of recommendation reinforced Mr. Diamond's selling point about his McCain connections as he pursued - and won in 2005 - a potentially much more lucrative deal to develop a resort hotel and luxury housing.

In Arizona, Mr. McCain has helped Mr. Diamond with matters as small as forwarding a complaint in a regulatory skirmish over the endangered pygmy owl, and as large as introducing legislation remapping public lands. In 1991 and 1994, Mr. McCain sponsored two laws sought by Mr. Diamond that resulted in providing him millions of dollars and thousands of acres in exchange for adding some of his properties to national parks. The Arizona senator co-sponsored a third similar bill now before the Senate.

Ironically, the story ends with Diamond complaining about McCain being too worried about his image to do favors, and accusedthe senatorof not bringing "home enough for the state."

EdMorrissey (formerly at the Captains' Quarters blog, now writing for HotAir) was distinctly unimpressed, emphasizing that McCain had no personal stake in any land swaps undertaken by Diamond andasserting that the acts McCain performed easily fell under the heading of constituent services - not special favors. Morrissey concluded:

The entire article contains nothing more than innuendo and absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing. If two innocuous bills from 14 and 17 years ago are all that Rutenberg can dig up on McCain, then Bill Keller may have to start looking for someone else to man the Get McCain desk. The Times has certainly come up with nothing so far.