Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Has "Farfallegate" Doomed The McCain Candidacy?

Cindy McCainCindy McCain, the (second, so far) wife of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, has been implicated in a plagiarism scandal that has many observers speculating that Sen. McCain's chances to win the presidency are doomed.

According to the New York Times, the story was broken on The Huffington Post by David Weiner, acting on a tip from concerned citizen and environmental defense lawyer, Lauren E. Handel. Handel discovered that a recipe posted on the official McCain campaign web site in a section purported to be a listing of Cindy McCain's "family recipes" was, in fact, copied verbatim from the Food Network website. Further investigations revealed that several other recipes had also been copied, word for word, from the Food Network's site, and posted as "Cindy's Recipes" without attribution or acknowledgment.

The McCain campaign acted quickly after the scandal emerged, blaming an irresponsible intern for the plagiarism. Tucker "Out of" Bounds, one of McCain's chief spokesman said, ominously, "The intern has been dealt with," according to the Times. The Times also reports that Bounds refused to provide any more details.

Questions were immediately raised, however. The website, run by respected political reporter Perez Hilton noted, with a heavy tone of irony, "Always blame the intern." It will be hard not to draw eerie parallels between the McCain campaign's attempt to place all the blame on one lowly staff member and the Bush Administration's attempt to paint individual low-ranking soldiers as solely responsible for the widespread torture at Abu Ghraib. "Can you say scapegoat?" one political commentator wondered aloud.

The recipes have since been removed from the campaign's website. Veteran observers note, however, that the response by the McCain campaign may have only worsened the problem, saying it changes the perception of what might have been passed off as a mistake into a scenario involving a conspiracy to defraud the American public and an ill-considered attempt to cover up the activites only after they had been exposed.

The McCain campaign is already reeling from revelations about other aspects of Cindy McCain's dubious history, including her admission that she maintained her drug habit by stealing medications meant for poor people, and documented reports that her vast fortune comes from a family business focused on dealing other controlled substances. Some of this fortune has been used to purchase eight houses, raising numerous eyebrows about the hypocrisy of the McCain campaign labeling its opponent as "elitist."

Whispers are growing into murmurs concerning the fitness of Cindy McCain to be First Lady. Some observers also wonder whether the scandal-plagued wife indicates a propensity for poor judgment by John McCain when it comes to selecting close advisors. "What did Sen. McCain know, and when did he know it?" is sure to be a question on many minds in the coming days.

Some wonder if this is the final blow to Sen. McCain's erstwhile reputation as a "straight talker," pointing also to the questions raised about the candidate's financial shenanigans in dealing with public campaign funds, his refusal, despite numerous promises, to release his medical records, his continued unwillingness to make public the tax returns filed by him and his wife, and his recent stealthy conversion from one religion to another.

So far, the other Republican candidates have not issued official statements concerning the latest blow to the McCain campaign. However, a source familiar with the Romney campaign, who was granted anonymity because of fear of repercussions, said, "The important thing to remember is, Mitt Romney never actually withdrew from the race. He only 'suspended his campaign.' He could jump right back in at any time." Numerous prominent political bloggers have also remarked upon the new website launched just yesterday by Mike Huckabee.

Neither Sen. McCain nor Mrs. McCain has contacted this reporter to comment on this, their latest scandal.

In case you haven't already figured it out, the above is my sense of how a typical "news" story would read, had the recipe kerfuffle been connected instead with Michelle Obama.

(pic. source 1, pic. source 2)


Adam said...

Hey, my personal family recipe for Meatloaf just happens to be the one from "Good Eats" on the food network's website. How do you think it got to my family, in some kitschy hope chest that's been in the family since the 1800s? Please. Did they even have TV's then? How did people learn how to cook 30 minute meals?

Anonymous said...

Gloria Feldt blogged about the same topic at her politics blog, Heartfeldt. Check it out and leave a comment, if you're interested. She posted "evidence" of the copying.

bjkeefe said...


Sorry not to notice your comment earlier. Thanks for the link, and here it is, HTMLified, since it looks like it's too long for easy copying: Vicky's link.


I hope you're not serious in trying to defend this little slip-up. To the extent that it's not meaningless, it was a mistake by the McCain campaign, and it does strike me as the kind of thing that would have been made much more of had it happened on Obama's web site. Which, of course, it wouldn't, since the Obamas have no desire to pretend that their marriage is something out of Leave it to Beaver.