In Mafia parlance a “button man” is a hit-man or mafia soldier. In The Godfather movies, Luca Brazzi was a button man, as was Willie Cicci:
Chairman: …you were a member of the Corleone crime organization.
Cicci: No. We called it the Corleone Family, Senator. We called it the Family.
Chairman: What was your position?
Cicci: At first, like everybody else I…I was a soldier.
Chairman: What is that?
Cicci: A button, you know, Senator, come on.
Chairman: No, I don’t know. Tell me.
Cicci: Well, when the boss says push a button on a guy, I push a button. See, Senator?
I think Ed Rollins pushed the button on the McCain campaign. And whether it was Huck (or someone else) who gave the order remains to be seen.
Hear me out…
“Suggestions” that McCain once had intimate relations with a telco lobbyist are just the beginning of the story. As Digby succinctly puts it, “It’s not about the sex it’s about the favors.”
Demosthenes is all over the story:
This scandal couldn’t be worse. It’s not that it raises the question of Gary Hart-style philandering, though it certainly does. It’s that he was philandering with a lobbyist, a telco lobbyist no less. He’s not just receptive to corporate lobbyists, he’s intimate with them.
It destroys that “Maverick” image and makes him worse than other Republicans [and jaysus, that's saying a lot]. It puts him right back into the mold of the Keating 5. It’s not going to go away, either; Republicans won’t cut him enough slack [has Rush weighed in yet?], and Democrats will gleefully feast on what remains of his reputation [although Hillary's campaign probably won't -- too close for comfort]. If there’s anything to this, it could destroy his candidacy. There’s no way he can win.
Oh but it gets better, much better. When a story like this breaks you have to ask yourself two questions: “Why did the story break now and who benefits from it?” So here we go:
Let’s say McCain drops out. That leaves Mike Huckabee as the frontrunner by default. In fact, it goes further than that, because Huckabee’s staying in the race is what has maintained it as a race. All that CNN/MSNBC/Fox primary coverage has been predicated on Huckabee continuing to provide a challenger.
If McCain had dropped out with everybody else out, it would have simply progressed to a brokered convention and someone like Romney would have probably taken it. If there were no race, so there would be no objections.
Instead, the presumption is going to be that Huckabee will have “won” the race.
Yes, the Republican powers that be could try to nominate someone else, but then they’d have to go up against the social conservatives (egged on by the Huckster) yelling that Huckabee won fair and square, and should get the nomination.
The Republicans will be between a rock and a hard place: either nominate Huck, or those small cracks in the Republican coalition are blasted wide open.
So…you can believe this was a fortunate coincidence for the Huckabee campaign. You can also believe in the Tooth Fairy. But you and I know that the Huckabee campaign has on its payroll one of the most brutal streetfighters in the business: Ed Rollins.
Rollins came on board in December (coincidentally the same month the NYT held back the McCain story to begin with) and then Huckabee called Bush arrogant and having an bunker mentality; shortly after that, Huckabee vowed he wouldn’t run the negative ad on Romney and then showed the ad to the assembled press (P.S. Huckabee beat Romney shortly thereafter); and now this.