Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Unexplored Character Issue-- Is John McCain Fit For Public Office At All?


It would be no news at all to DWT readers that even if McCain escaped doing hard prison time for his Keating Five corruption, he certainly should have been kicked out of the revolting Gentleman's Club known as the United States Senate for accepting massive bribes from bank swindler and close family friend Charles Keating. Someone just told The New Republic, which is trumpeting exclusive evidence you've never heard. A little late to do any good and probably less effective than the right's Aunt Zeitini Onyango smearorama, which started at Murdoch's London Times and then got picked up moments later by Murdoch's Fox News (thanks, Bill Clinton!) and the less and less relevant Drudge. Soon the GOP bottom feeders thought Xmas had come early. These kinds of last minute revelations don't do much, other than motivate the base a bit. That said, let's get back to figuring out why McCain was never punished for his role in the bank swindle that cost American taxpayers billions of dollars and is never held accountable for any of the crap that would have ended almost anyone else's political career-- or do you think Auntie Zeitini is more relevant to something?

The Keating Five Scandal is not just about McCain's "poor judgment" (as he likes to paint it) or about the unpleasantness of too much deregulation (as the media has painted it of late); it's about McCain, the crooked political hack who gets away with everything always-- and how he does it.
One day in early March 1986, John McCain, an Arizona congressman, sat down to write a letter. McCain had heard that a long-time friend and donor, Charles Keating, was upset for being listed as a member of McCain's campaign finance committee when a more prominent position would seem more appropriate. So McCain apologized. Needlessly it turned out, for "Charlie," as he signed his letter, would reply a few days later: "John, don't be silly. You can call me anything...I'm yours until death do us part."

Three years later, McCain and four other senators would be called to the carpet for this loyalty, which was accompanied by a total of $1.3 million in contributions from Keating. Senators Alan Cranston, Dennis DeConcini, John Glenn, John McCain, and Donald Riegle were being investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee for helping Keating's company, Lincoln Savings and Loan, resist regulators. That lack of regulation precipitated Lincoln's collapse that year--part of the larger savings-and-loan collapse--at a cost of about $3 billion to the federal government.

The 14th month Senate Ethics Committee whitewash gave McCain a wrist slap. The committee has always been a bipartisan tool set up by senators to protect themselves. As far as the Ethics Committee is concerned, convicted felon Ted Stevens is a member in good standing and as worthy as... John McCain. But the whitewash was not the only investigation into McCain's bribery scandal.
There were two other probes at the time that got barely any public attention--both of which largely focused on McCain himself. These were probes into illicit leaks about the proceedings of the Ethics Committee--leaks that repeatedly benefited McCain and hurt his Keating Five colleagues. One of those senators described the leaks at the time as a "violation of ethical behavior at least as serious as anything of which we senators have been accused."

The leaks, if they were coming from a senator, were also illegal. All five senators--including McCain--had testified under oath and under the U.S. penal code that the leaks did not come from their camps. The leaks were also prohibited by rules of the Senate Ethics Committee; according to the rules of the Senate, anyone caught leaking such information could face expulsion from the body. These, then, were not the usual Washington disclosures: Discovered, they could have stopped the career of any Washington politician in his tracks.

The two investigations into the leaks suggested McCain's involvement but were officially inconclusive. New evidence, obtained in recent weeks, again points back to the McCain camp. The investigator of those leaks now says that he does not doubt that they came from McCain or his team. A reporter who possessed evidence in the Keating case now says he believes that McCain was the source and got away with it. Finally, a senator who has emerged as a key backer of McCain's presidential campaign turns out to have authored a letter stating flatly that McCain was the source of the damning leaks. Put together, a large record of evidence now points in the direction of Senator McCain. Far from McCain's reputation of putting "country first," these leaks depict a formidable politician willing to go through great lengths to maintain his standing. More than McCain's relationship with Keating, it is the story of the Keating investigation leaks that voters should know.

...Essentially, the leaks deflected public attention away from McCain and toward his colleagues. One leak, the week of DeConcini and Riegle's appearances before the Committee in October, 1990, described the probe against them as having "broadened," and accused Riegle, then Banking Committee chairman, of improper regulatory intervention. Neither part was true, yet the leak ricocheted in the press instantly. One headline from the Washington Post blared, "Panel Reveals Riegle-Keating Meetings; Senator Said to Have Maintained Contact After Start of S&L Probe," and another from the Los Angeles Times read, "Panel Action is Seen as Prelude to a Full-Scale Investigation of Sens. Cranston, DeConcini and Riegle." Meanwhile, approval ratings for Riegle and DeConcini began to tank in their home states. Later on, the leaks investigation would conclude that the leak "[could] only be described" as an attempt to "influence the deliberations on DeConcini and Riegle."

The "character issue" in this election hasn't even been seriously looked at. McCain's character was masterfully painted by his hype machine to leave out all the reams of unpleasantness and concentrate on the self-serving fairytale of his service in Vietnam. John McCain isn't fit to hold any public office, let alone the presidency.

That said... this might be worth paying a little attention to and retaining for the next couple of days-- just in case the Republicans plan to fly in the face of every indication of a massive landslide and actually steal another one:

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At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wait, does this mean John McCain lied under oath?


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