Roger’s Rules

Why is John McCain's non affair front-page news while the appearance of Obama's name on the hard drive of a dead Colombia warlord isn't?

Everyone knows that John McCain has the reputation for being thin-skinned. The therapy-speak people talk about his “having a problem with anger,” and generally trot out something about the trauma of spending so much time incarcerated in a North Vietnamese prison. Leaving aside the sick-making “problem with anger” rhetoric, I have always suspected there might be something to this. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Mr. McCain handle himself with maturity and aplomb when taxed by the inanities of a reporter from The New York Times (pardon the pleonasm). The headlines reporting the incident catered to the clichés: “McCain Flashes Temper at NY TIMES Reporter,” said the Drudge report, which linked to a piece by Michael Calderone on Politico:

John McCain became hostile with the N.Y. Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller on the campaign’s plane today, after the reporter questioned him about a 2004 meeting with John F. Kerry . . .

Calderone links to a video clip of the episode: take of look here. What do you think? I thought McCain was a model of restraint, especially given the hectoring purport and whiny tone of Ms. Bumiller, who I think must have gone to the same elocutionist as Hillary Clinton and Big Nurse.

EB: Okay. Can I ask you about your (pause) Why you’re so angry?

McCain: Pardon me?

EB: Nevermind, nevermind.

Why do candidates put up with this stuff? Anyway, to his credit, Michael Calderone supplied this update to his post:

Readers have fairly noted McCain’s reaction isn’t exactly “hostile,” which I wrote before audio and video were available. It would be more accurate to say he became irritated or annoyed, perhaps.

Quite right. I would only add that the irritation or annoyance were eminently justified by smarmy “gotcha” psychobabble of Ms. E.B.

Well, I suppose the Times is still smarting from its grotesque effort to smear McCain by publishing a front-page story about the affair that the presumptive Republican nominee for President might, just possibly, have had with a lobbyist 8 years ago. McCain and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, instantly denied the allegation. In fact, Ms. Iseman had already denied it in the original Times story, thus rendering the entire exercise completely pointless, but, hey, why let a little thing like the distinction between malicious rumor and actual news bear upon what you put on the front page of your newspaper? On balance, I am happy the Times ran the story: it was so quickly and so widely held up to contempt that I have to feel that some public good came of it.

Our newspaper of record is clearly happy to devote consider resources to discover whom John McCain did not have affair with in the year 2000 or what he didn’t say to John Kerry in 2004. But it betrays a notable lack of curiosity about the friends of Barack Hussein Obama (I know, I know, you aren’t supposed to mention his middle name, but I just can’t help it). Investor’s Business Daily is much livelier on this subject. Just yesterday, for example it published an editorial called “Obama And FARC,” which posed the interesting question why Mr. B. Hussein Obama’s name should turn up on the hard drive of a laptop computer belonging to Raul Reyes, the Colombian warlord and second-in-command of the Marxist-Leninist terror group FARC (short for “Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia“), who was shot in a raid by the Colombian army on March 1. Quite a few interesting tidbits have emerged from that hard drive, including the fact that the group had been attempting to obtain uranium and that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had siphoned some $300 million to them. What caught the eye of the editorialist for IBD was place that B. Hussein O. occupies in the plans and fantasy life of FARC. “In a Feb. 28 letter,” IBD notes,”

FARC chieftain Raul Reyes cheerily reported to his inner circle that he met “two gringos” who assured him “the new president of their country will be Obama and that they are interested in your compatriots. Obama will not support ‘Plan Colombia’ nor will he sign the TLC (Free Trade Agreement).”

The Victorian travel writer Alexander Kinglake once proposed affixing the notice “Interesting if true” to churches in England. I feel similarly about Mr. Reyes’s “two gringos” and his apparent familiarity with the voting proclivities of BHO. IDB pursues the question further:

Obama hasn’t said a whole lot about Colombia other than to criticize President Bush’s good relations with President Uribe. With this correspondence suggesting that FARC knows what he thinks, maybe the American voters have a right to know what he thinks, too. Five questions come to mind:

1. Is it true Obama would cut off Plan Colombia military aid to our ally, which would serve the terrorist group FARC’s interests?

2. Does Obama still oppose a free trade agreement for Colombia, even though that puts him on the same side as FARC in the debate?

3. Does Obama know or care that one of his staffers or supporters is claiming to disclose his positions in secret meetings with FARC terrorists outside government channels?

4. Can he tell us why his supporters would pass on such information to terrorists, and what he or she could gain from it?

5. Will Obama, as president, treat FARC as the serious terrorists they are, given that they still hold three Americans hostage?

These aren’t idle “gotcha” questions, by the way. Based on his campaign so far, Obama favors meeting and negotiating with rogue leaders without preconditions, passing secret messages to foreign countries at odds with his public positions and tolerating Che-flag wielding leftists among his supporters who advance a radical agenda in his name.

Now that FARC seems to have an inside line to Obama’s campaign, maybe he ought to come tell voters what he really stands for.

I wonder why such interesting questions haven’t occurred to the editors of The New York Times. Why is John McCain’s non-affair with a lobbyist 8 years ago worth a front-page story while a possible link between a Colombia warlord and B.H. Obama is not even worth a mention on page B27? Isn’t that news that’s “fit to print”? Just asking.

[Update: as an awake reader points out, I meant “Colombia” not “Columbia.” Bonus Homerus dormitat.]