This year’s Presidential campaign has proven to be one of the most interesting and unexpected phenomena of the past several decades.
With it, this year’s contenders are breaking down barriers: the first female candidate, the first African-American candidate and a lone wolf Republican who is breaking step with his party to bemoan the war in Iraq, national ID cards and the Patriot Act.
We’ve heard from a member the Mormon community for the first time as well as a former evangelical minister who plays bass wouldn’t mind seeing tobacco outlawed.
All of these things certainly add to the color of the Presidential candidate’s race, but none are so inexplicable as the run and success of Senator John McCain.
McCain -- who is clearly despised by conservative media personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and others – has gained tremendous momentum and support in recent weeks and the dynamic is baffling.
Though news polls have reported that more than 70% of Americans want our military out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, McCain (who advocates carrying on such conflict for 100 or more years) has gained in popularity. McCain, who is accused by his party mates of being less than conservative, appears to be on track to garner the Republican nomination.
But, he comes to the table with considerable baggage. Perhaps even insurmountable baggage that the media heads are oddly reticent to discuss.
McCain was part of the Keating 5, a group of 5 US Senators who, in the 1980s, accepted bribe money from Charles Keating, the maestro of the Savings and Loan scandal that bore some $30 billion of fraud against the American consumers.
Keating paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to five members of the United States Senate in return for their influence in turning eyes away from the fleecing. Four of the five have left pubic office and one was recommended for censure by the panel. Only one remains today and that one is Senator John McCain.
Surely, no American over the age of 40 is unaware of the money squandered, lives destroyed and obscene corruption of the Savings and Loan scandal. It represented every negative and despicable stereotype of the relationship between corporations and the government. Yet, the talking heads have had little or nothing to say about the matter.
That McCain was involved in any way is clear evidence that he comes to the Presidential race with unclean hands.
Because of the scandal, McCain co-authored the McCain-Feingold bill for campaign finance reform. Detractors saw this measure as one that trampled the guaranteed protections of the First Amendment. Still others found it a mechanism by which McCain could more effectively silence his opponents and critics. Either way, the law is a tantrum, on its face, by McCain and has done nothing to minimize the unsavory fundraising practices of some candidates for public office.
Indeed, McCain could easily become the victim of the 529 groups his law has helped to create. At times, irony serves a higher purpose.
Still, the talking heads – who rail against the McCain-Feingold measure – utter nary a peep about the reasons for it or what motivated McCain’s action.
It is impossible to believe that Americans would tolerate another crook in the Whitehouse. The Nixon debacle was clear evidence that, although Americans may not thoroughly trust their elected officials, they have little in the way of empathy for those who fleece the average citizen in the name of greed. McCain has done precisely that and, yet, he leads in the polls.
At issue, as well, is McCain’s own confession (during the Presidential debate in January 2008) that he has little understanding of economics. At a time when the American currency is plunging to frighteningly low levels of worth and the country’s deficits and borrowing activities rise, McCain’s admitted lack of knowledge are reason enough to fear his Whitehouse bid.