I'm being coy here. I'm using the word "affair" in its generic sense...like a "Man from UNCLE" episode title. Still, the country is abuzz about the so-called affair -- the juicy kind -- with lobbyist Vicki Iseman. Suddenly Rush Limbaugh is blustering about this story being a typical liberal New York Times hit-job on McCain. Right-wing internet surfers adding comments to stories on CNN are bitching about this being a liberal NYT hit-job on McCain. Hell, even McCain is complaining about this being a liberal NYT hit-job on McCain. So I decided to do something totally irrational in this day and age: I read the New York Times story. Oh fer cryin' out loud, folks. All the NYT did was to write an apparently well-substantiated story that says that McCain's aides have been concerned that McCain's connection to Iseman may have been romantic, that they communicated that to him, and that McCain himself acknowledged "inappropriate" behavior (according to an aide). It very carefully does not suggest that McCain was rutting with this 40-year-old woman every chance he got. In fact, it seems impeccably worded as far as news stories go. Which means McCain's "inappropriate" behavior could have been nothing more than giving people the appearance of impropriety. Now I know what you may be thinking: "Yeah, right. Are you that naive, Tom?" No, of course not. What I am suggesting is that the right wing media and a number of their internet followers are having conniption fits over something which the New York Times never actually said. Which, ironically, amounts to a conservative hit-job on the Times. The actual thrust of the article (if you'll pardon the pun) is that McCain can be quite tone-deaf as to when his actions look inappropriate, which the NYT (correctly, IMO) believes to be an important issue when it concerns someone who presents himself as a reformer. To me, unless somebody turns up with proof (a la Monica's dress), the suspicions of McCain's advisors are nothing more than suspicions, whether there actually was an affair or not. The real story here is how this story invoked a knee-jerk anti-Times reaction in the conservative media.