As if Rick Davis weren’t enough

AS IF RICK DAVIS WEREN’T ENOUGH…. I’ll simply never understand why John McCain decided that associations with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are a key measurement of a presidential candidate’s worth. It keeps coming back to bite him on the butt.

When mortgage giant Freddie Mac feared several years ago that Sen. John McCain was too outspoken on the issue of executive pay, it pinpointed a lobbyist known for his closeness to McCain and hired him to work with the senator.

Mark Buse, a longtime McCain adviser who had been staff director of the Senate commerce committee, signed on as a Freddie Mac lobbyist, and his firm, ML Strategies, earned $460,000 in lobbying fees in late 2003 and 2004, according to lobbying disclosures. Buse is now chief of staff at McCain’s Senate office. […]

McCain’s own entanglements include his campaign manager, Rick Davis, who earned more than $2 million as president of an advocacy group that defended Fannie and Freddie against stricter regulation. Davis’s lobbying firm, Davis Manafort, also received monthly payments of $15,000 from Freddie Mac as recently as August.

A campaign spokesperson conceded that McCain’s chief of staff is a former Freddie Mac lobbyist, but said this did not influence McCain’s policy position.

That might even be true, but it’s entirely irrelevant. According to John McCain, Obama’s loose association with James Johnson, Fannie Mae’s former CEO, is scandalous, and somehow makes Obama partially responsible for the financial crisis. Indeed, McCain insisted publicly that Obama’s largely meaningless ties to former Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac officials necessarily puts Obama “square in the middle” of the “Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling,” which was responsible for the Wall Street crisis.

This, of course, is insane. On the one hand, McCain’s own campaign manager got $15,000 a month from Freddie Mac precisely because of his ties to McCain. On the other hand, McCain’s own chief of staff is a former Freddie Mac lobbyist who, again, was also hired precisely because of his ties to McCain.

Who’s “square in the middle” of the “Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling”?

That McCain decided this would be a central line of attack remains bewildering.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.