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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

February 21, 2008


McCain's Improprieties Aren't About Sex

The New York Times article about Senator John McCain tells a story of an unusual relationship between a male presidential candidate for the Republican nomination in 2000 and a female lobbyist. That lobbyist, Vicky Iseman, was a telecommunications industry lobbyist with business in front of McCain's Senate Commerce Committee. Their relationship, along with the thousands of dollars she apparently steered his campaign's way, looked inappropriate to McCain's staff.

Now, in fairness to the Arizona Senator, had this lobbyist been a man, no one would have given it a second thought - but they should have.

Here is an industry lobbyist - a representative willing to spend money and use their influence to make money and "earn" more influence palling around with a very powerful US Senator. It only took the mere mention of an affair with McCain to have people take notice and the New York Times, finally, print their story.

It should also be noted that McCain had been asked to respond to the article as early as this past December. He wouldn't talk about it.

Now think back to 1992 and a certain political candidate named Bill Clinton. Then try to remember what he, his wife Hillary and his daughter Chelsea had to go through at the same time. We all pretty much know by now that then-Governor Clinton was, at the very least, inappropriate in his personal life, but he hadn't been accused of taking money from his "friends".

McCain did take money from his.

“Why is she always around?”
-A McCain advisor in 1999, about Iseman, a telecommunications industry lobbyist

Allow me to answer that question: She was protecting her investment.

Many will forget McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal. You might recall that Charles Keating, with the help of the five US Senators, also known as "The Keating Five", stalled federal banking regulators with influence and bullying tactics to protect his nefarious dealings with his Lincoln savings and Loan, which just happened to be in McCain's Arizona. The scandal was known appropriately as the savings and Loan Scandal and it cost the American people $3.4 billion.

Inexplicably, McCain wrote in his memoirs, “People like (Keating) appeal to me."

Just what is this guy thinking after the fact, anyway?

He is essentially an honorable person, but he can be imprudent,"
-William P. Cheshire, a McCain friend editorialist at The Arizona Republic who defended him during the Keating Five scandal

And although three of the Keating Five Senators were censured, McCain was tapped on the hands and only accused of "poor judgment" by his Senate colleagues. There can be no doubt that Keating's home Senator got off too light. Three of the other Keating Five Senators lost their seats nearly immediately.

But McCain's relationship with Keating was more than just occasional. the two were very close friends. They vacationed together and even partnered in the building of a shopping mall with him through his second wife, Cindy's, family connections. The second Mrs. McCain is the heiress to a large beer dynasty.

McCain flew on Keating's private jet, a clear violation of Senate rules which forbid such travel. He ended up paying for the trips to make amends. There can be little doubt that "The Maverick" ignored those rules because he felt that he was only accompanying a "friend".

It's McCain's utter disdain for the rules that can make you the most angry. There is no apologizing for his past or learning from it. The Keating Five Scandal came to a head during the Bush (41) years which ended in 1992. The affair (and I use that word not in the context of any sexual liaison) involving Ms. Iseman, the paid lobbyist, occurred almost a decade later. Much like the man he wants to succeed, the new GOP would-be can't, or won't, come to grips with his mistakes.

A Scandal such as the Keating Five Scandal should be considered by all voters this November, and so should the cozy relationship with a paid lobbyist contributing thousands of dollars to his campaign. Let's not forget that Senator McCain is the man always screaming about campaign finance reform, so he must be held to a higher standard in such issues.

Mush in the same way Idaho Senator Larry Craig has to answer for his hypocrisy, McCain has to answer for his.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg