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McCain: Ditching Hagee and Parsley

The Washington Post previews the release of McCain's medical records. "Sen. John McCain's 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam undoubtedly changed the course of his life. But now that he is 71, that remote trauma seems unlikely to shorten his life span or to lead to mental or physical conditions that are not already apparent. That is the implication of a body of research on the lifetime effects of captivity and war trauma and the anecdotal experience of the small group of naval aviators imprisoned with McCain at the notorious 'Hanoi Hilton.'"

More: "The most obvious effect of McCain's captivity is in his arms. He broke both of them and a leg after ejecting from his bomber in 1967. Inadequate treatment of the injuries, as well as torture by his captors in Hanoi, left him with a decreased range of motion in his arms -- evident in the shrugging appearance of his shoulders. At the prison, which received its sarcastic Hanoi Hilton nickname from the Americans held there, McCain was repeatedly beaten, bound and placed in prolonged solitary confinement."

"Sen. John McCain on Thursday repudiated the presidential endorsement of the Rev. John Hagee after learning about a sermon in which the megachurch pastor from San Antonio declared that God allowed the rise of Adolf Hitler because it resulted in returning Israel to the Jewish people," the Washington Post writes. "Mindful of the controversy that ensnarled Sen. Barack Obama, his possible opponent in the November election, McCain tried to draw a distinction between his link to Hagee and Obama's ties to the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., who was the pastor for many years of the church Obama attends in Chicago. Wright's incendiary remarks about the U.S. government have dogged the Democratic front-runner for months.

"I have said I do not believe Senator Obama shares Reverend Wright's extreme views," McCain said in the statement. "But let me also be clear, Reverend Hagee was not and is not my pastor or spiritual advisor, and I did not attend his church for twenty years." He added: "I have denounced statements he made immediately upon learning of them, as I do again today." 

The Los Angeles Times: "McCain, who is viewed with suspicion by many conservatives in the Republican Party, had actively sought endorsements from evangelicals. He has had a rocky relationship with evangelical leaders, notably calling Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell 'agents of intolerance' in the 2000 presidential campaign."

Just asking: Did McCain's anxiousness about evangelical support allow him to not vet these pastors? Did his campaign's lack of experience with dealing with some of these evangelical folks allow these folks to slip through the cracks?

On the eve of the release of hundreds of pages of his medical records, McCain fired off a particularly deep dig at Obama's age and experience, NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann reports. "For a young man with very little experience, he's done very well," the senator from Arizona jibed at a rally in Stockton, CA. "So I appreciate -- with his very, very great lack of experience and knowledge of the issues -- he's been very successful."

For the second day in a row, the Washington Post examines the lobbying career of a McCain supporter and volunteer with the last name of Black -- specifically, Charlie Black's wife, Judy Black. "His wife, Judy Black, is a national co-chair of the fundraising group 'Women for McCain,' and she has a vibrant lobbying practice that includes a foreign client and several companies with business before the Senate Commerce Committee, where McCain is a senior member."

"Judy Black works at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a firm that earned $12.9 million in lobbying fees last year. She is listed as an agent of Dubai Aerospace Enterprises, whose partners include the government of Dubai, according to forms filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Since 2004, she has also represented telecomunications companies AT&T and Global Crossing Ltd., which have matters before the Commerce Committee. At one point on the campaign trail, Charles Black joked with reporters that deciding to leave behind his lucrative lobbying practice and volunteer full time for McCain left him to seek an allowance from his wife."

More: "Judy and Charles Black have complied with the policies, according to a senior McCain campaign aide who requested anonymity because he is not permitted to make public comments. Judy Black is one of 'hundreds of people' who are both lobbyists and volunteers, the spokesman said."

The Washington Post also editorializes on this anti-lobbyist purge going on with both McCain and Obama. "The McCain campaign has been tossing overboard a lobbyist a day to comply with an anti-lobbyist policy written by, yes, its lobbyist-turned-campaign manager. The Obama campaign seized on the issue to portray the McCain campaign as bought and paid for by lobbyists, then found itself under fire for having a looser policy than the McCain campaign when it comes to lobbyists who volunteer for campaign work. This is, as we suspect both candidates know, a silly exercise. Lobbyists are a symptom of a larger problem that can't be fixed by turning them into political pariahs. The real problem is the distorting influence on public policy of moneyed interests; lobbyists are merely a particularly efficient delivery vehicle for the money that candidates need to satisfy their fundraising habits. The most effective cure would be to free lawmakers of this addiction by providing for public financing of campaigns, a solution that is, admittedly, a long way off."

The Hill notes how McCain could benefit if some troops, as Gen. Petraeus promised, are  withdrawn from Iraq before November. "Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that he expects in September to recommend additional reductions in U.S. troop levels in Iraq before he takes over Central Command, where he will oversee troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He did not specify how large the cuts would be, but is expected to offer another assessment on Iraq troop levels about a month before the presidential election."

After making his presence known in the presidential race last week during his visit to Israel, the Wall Street Journal reports that Bush plans to keep quiet and stay out of the campaign as much as possible.