Same As It Ever Was

Jim Lehrer and Ruth Marcus talk about John McCain’s lobbying ties to the Georgian government:

JIM LEHRER: Yes. What about the McCain lobbyist who lobbied for Georgia and is now McCain’s number-one foreign affairs adviser? Is that going to come up to bite McCain more, do you think?

RUTH MARCUS: So the Obama campaign hopes. I look at this on two different levels. On the substantive level, anybody who knows Senator McCain knows that he would have the same views on Georgia no matter what lobbyist came to talk to him. He feels this one in his bones. And he wasn’t going to — this is not a shift in position because some lobbyist came and whispered in his ear.

It’s worth noting the extraordinary level of benefit of the doubt that John McCain tends to get from the press, including from people who aren’t necessarily hugely sympathetic to his policy agenda. Normally reporters are ruthless about the motives behind politicians’ decisions, but everything McCain does is above question. Beyond that, how much better is it for McCain to be the kind of guy whose views on U.S.-Russia relations are identical to those that you would have if you were a paid agent of a foreign government? Of course it’s possible that America’s interests vis-à-vis Russia are identical to Georgia’s interests, but that doesn’t seem very likely to me.