Thursday, February 21, 2008

Scared Straight (Talk)

Heard some of the Lehrer News Hour in the car this afternoon. They did a huge piece on the McCain scandal. And, mirabile dictu, I finally heard as part of a mainstream news story on McCain the most important name you never hear when they talk about Mr. Maverick: Charles Keating.

In case you have forgotten:

Back in the old days, defendants in famous trials got numbers -- the Chicago Eight, the Gang of Four, the Dave Clark Five, the Daytona 500. McCain was one of the "Keating Five," congressmen investigated on ethics charges for strenuously helping convicted racketeer Charles Keating after he gave them large campaign contributions and vacation trips.

Charles Keating was convicted of racketeering and fraud in both state and federal court after his Lincoln Savings & Loan collapsed, costing the taxpayers $3.4 billion. His convictions were overturned on technicalities; for example, the federal conviction was overturned because jurors had heard about his state conviction, and his state charges because Judge Lance Ito (yes, that judge) screwed up jury instructions. Neither court cleared him, and he faces new trials in both courts.)

Though he was not convicted of anything, McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating after Keating gave McCain at least $112,00 in contributions. In the mid-1980s, McCain made at least 9 trips on Keating's airplanes, and 3 of those were to Keating's luxurious retreat in the Bahamas. McCain's wife and father-in-law also were the largest investors (at $350,000) in a Keating shopping center; the Phoenix New Times called it a "sweetheart deal."

The fact that this scandal, which by all rights should have ended McCain's career, has never come up before in this campaign is all the evidence anyone needs of the special treatment McCain has gotten from the sycophants in the steno pool. And if the Gary Hart-like story now unfolding accomplishes nothing else, putting McCain's Keating 5 role back on the table will be a major effect. And it will set up a huge opportunity for Obama to deliver a body blow if McCain is stupid enough to claim experience and judgment as advantages -- an opportunity that will exist only if there is enough context for people to know what Obama is talking about if he references Keating.

Oh, and when Johnny Mac calls himself a maverick, the press seems to think this:

But I visualize this:

Update: Heh. Bring on the Obama-Huckabee debates.


Far too many of the McCain claims, however, haven’t withstood even minor scrutiny. McCain hadn’t spoken to anyone at Paxson, except he had. His letters on Paxson’s behalf were considered perfectly acceptable to the FCC, except that they weren’t. The McCain campaign made no effort to squash the NYT article, except that they went to great lengths to do just that. McCain never even spoke the NYT about the piece, except that he had.
And. And.


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