Because of the New York Times' shoddy execution, and the fact that the real underlying story (not the evidence-lite romantic speculation) is an A27 jobbie at best, the McCain-lobbyist "scandal" 30 hours later has become largely a debate about journalism and even a textbook example of political damage control and base-rallying.

But that doesn't mean there aren't interesting subplots that will be teasing out in the coming days. David Brooks, a longtime intimate of Campaign McCain, provides the most interesting Day Two analysis I've seen, basically laying the blame for the scandal on the longtime rift between McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, and his differently gruntled former Karl Rove figure, John Weaver.

At the core of that article that began on the front page are two anonymous sources. These sources, according to the article, say they confronted McCain in 1999 with their concerns that he was risking his career by interacting with Vicki Iseman. […] I have no idea who those sources are. But they are bound to come from the inner circle of the McCain universe. The number of people who could credibly claim to have had a meeting like that with McCain in early 1999 is vanishingly small. I count a small handful of associates with that stature, including Davis and Weaver. There is nobody in that tight circle unaffected by the hostilities that emanate from the rift. […]

Some closer to Weaver theorized that the sources must be former McCain campaign elders from 2000 who worked for rival campaigns in 2008.

I checked that possibility out, and it doesn't hold water. But while calling around to a dozen senior McCain friends and advisers Thursday, what struck me was the enormous tragedy of the rift. […] [It] is like some primal sore. It affected every conversation I had Thursday, as it has infected McCain efforts again and again over the past many years.

The upshot, for the 99% of healthy humans who don't care about inter-campaign machinations? Team McCain might be getting ready to blame the formerly indispensable John Weaver, and depending on how that goes John Weaver might be poised to dig up more skeletons as the campaign season unfolds.

Oh, and there's this parting zinger from Brooks:

Thursday, McCain went all-in. He didn't just say he didn't remember a meeting about Iseman. He said there was no meeting. If it turns out that there is evidence of an affair and a meeting, then his presidential hopes will be over.

UPDATE: As I've mentioned before, McCain's dealings with Vicki Iseman's client Paxson Communications was a mini-scandal eight years ago first raised by the Boston Globe (McCain effectively managed the crisis, plus a related, ensuing one involving still more alleged favors for Ameritech, by producing a massive document-dump that smothered the stories with context). Anyway, the Globe story has always been hard to find online, until today.