The Real McCain Question

It's his ties to lobbyists in general, not an alleged romantic link, that should concern voters.

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Voters of all stripes should be more concerned about Sen. John McCain's chumminess with lobbyists in Washington than over any alleged romantic ties to a female lobbyist eight years ago.

The New York Times story, subject of a controversy, is still important because the senator from Arizona has been so outspoken with his attacks on special interests. He's almost holier-than-thou on the issue.

A former aide of McCain's was the apparent source who told the newspaper that the lobbyist in question, 30 years his junior, was told to stay away from the senator in 2000. It was when McCain was running against George W. Bush in a bitter GOP presidential primary.

McCain denies being warned about the woman's presence. And he denies any romantic ties to the lobbyist.

However, the lobbying issue won't go away so easily.

Even the appearance of any impropriety could be a problem for McCain. Early in his Senate career, he was one of the Keating Five. The senator was so contrite that he issued a mea culpa to many reporters in the capital. That took courage because most politicans will never admit error.

So far McCain has handled this situation without losing his well-documented temper. McCain is known to have exploded at colleagues in the Senate, including some in his own party. He readily admits to losing his patience at times.

McCain should take some good advice from an anger management expert who told him in this week's National Journal to just "take a deep breath."

As the campaign gets even more tense in the months ahead, McCain may have to take that deep breath quite often.