At least the New York Times has moved its jeremiad on John McCain to where it belongs — in the editorial pages. After whiffing badly on several McCain hit pieces, the editorial board gets into the game today with a disingenuous attack on McCain’s supposed reluctance to disclose health and financial information. The Times sets a strange bar for disclosure:
Senator John McCain is 71 years old, a survivor of an aggressive form of skin cancer. If elected, he would be the oldest man to become president.
These factors are not disqualifying, but they impose on Mr. McCain a larger duty than usual to provide detailed, timely disclosure about his health. So far, he has failed to meet this obligation to voters, even though he is now the presumed Republican nominee.
And it is not just on health issues that there is a lack of transparency in this campaign. Neither Mr. McCain nor Senator Hillary Clinton has been forthcoming enough about financial records.
No presidential candidate should get to the point that he has locked up his party’s nomination without public vetting of his health. And Mr. McCain, in particular, knows that. Early in his first run for president, in 1999, he provided an in-depth look at his medical history: 1,500 pages of medical and psychiatric records collected by a Navy project on the health of former prisoners of war. He has released precious little medical information since his surgery for melanoma in August 2000.
I’d note that the supposed lack of disclosure on his melanoma didn’t stop the Times from writing a long, speculative piece of drizzly effluvium on McCain’s health almost two months ago. Not only did the Times’ own experts conclude that there was little concern over McCain’s prognosis, but they also pointed out that despite quarterly reviews of his skin, McCain has had no further surgery — which gives a pretty good indication that the melanoma has not recurred. It came in a series of Times “news” reports about issues that turned out to be either non-issues or completely false, such as the non-relationship with Vicki Iseman, the supposed flash of temper that a YouTube showed was a figment of Elizabeth Bumiller’s imagination, and so on.
Sources close to the situation say that they explained to the Times that McCain’s campaign would release the medical records later this month, that they needed to coordinate with some very busy physicians which takes time, and that the explanation came in time for the Times to include that in the editorial. Do you see any indication of that in the piece? Its absence means one of the two are lying. (See Update below.)
The editorial demands that McCain release his wife’s financial records. Mrs. McCain’s finances have already been disclosed as required through Senate disclosure documents, as well as presidential campaign filings. Those records detail the sources of all income Mrs. McCain receives, as well as the range of her income, although not the exact amount. Since Mrs. McCain’s income is separated from Senator McCain through a pre-nuptial agreement, it hardly matters anyway, but the information is already public, despite what the editorial implies. Apparently the Times has been too lazy to actually do research.
As far as disclosure coming before clinching the nomination, isn’t that a decision voters make? Republicans in the primaries didn’t see it as a big enough issue to keep Senator McCain from clinching the GOP nomination. In fact, neither did the New York Times editors, which endorsed McCain in February. If they believe he needed to disclose his medical records and Mrs. McCain’s financial records before winning, why did the NYT editorial board give him the endorsement before the disclosure?
The Times has engaged in an obvious attempt to smear John McCain ever since he won the nomination. Small wonder the Gray Lady’s advertisers have bailed on the paper, and its readers have canceled subscriptions at a record rate. The paper has become indistinguishable from the DNC and MoveOn’s public-relations organs. Hackery at the former Paper of Record starts at the top and trickles downward.
Update: Tom Shipley points out that the editorial does mention the May 23 release date for the medical records, so I stand corrected on that point. Now explain why, knowing this, the editorial exists at all. What crucial milestone appears in the next three weeks that would make this editorial necessary? It makes the argument even more vapid than ever.