When (not if) John McCain apologizes for having misled the public about his relationship with such lobbyists as Vicki Iseman, he will be repeating a pattern that has been evident to the public since he was caught aiding Charles Keating, Chairman of the failed Savings and Loan Association in 1989/1990.
Back then, the allegation was that five senators– McCain included– gave favorable treatment to Keating after he contributed large amounts of money to their campaigns and lavished them with gifts. McCain intervened on Keating’s behalf after his campaign was given about $112,000. Keating was later convicted of racketeering and fraud after the collapse of his Lincoln Saving and Loan Association.
According to press accounts, McCain then went through a period of deep introspection, only to reinvigorate his commitment to political ethics by embracing campaign reform and other “maverick” issues.
A decade later, McCain’s “straight talk express” was perhaps heading to the Republican nomination when his campaign push-polled voters in Michigan, reminding them of George Bush’s appearance with Bob Jones, someone known to have made several anti-Catholic comments.
At about the same time, McCain, campaigning in South Carolina, refused to take a stand against the flying of the Confederate flag over the state capitol building.
So what’s the connection, you say? old news? Well, with the Michigan incident, it is important to remember that McCain was no innocent victim when Bush/Rove nastily counterattacked in South Carolina. Certainly no defense of Bush/Rove, but McCain’s people attacked first. Rick Davis, manager of McCain’s 2000 bid, admitted as much to the NYT Feb 23, 2000.
Moreover, the posturing over the confederate flag is important for what McCain did about 6 weeks after the SC primary. He returned to South Carolina (May 2000), and, as he did following the Keating Five, he apologized for his ethical lapse (a politically expedient rather than principled position on the confederate flag), underwent some introspection and then recommitted himself as the “straight talker.”
Here is what he said when he returned to SC six weeks after the SC primary,
“I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary. So I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth.” — Sen. John McCain.
Keep this quote in mind now that the NYT has documented a new series of ethical lapses with lobbyists, which McCain has rejected as lies. First, McCain has also already been caught in the lie raised by the NYT story that he lobbied the FCC on behalf of Paxson Communications, a client of Vicki Iseman. In a 2002 deposition, McCain said he was contacted by Paxson (and spoke to Paxson), and lobbied the FCC on Paxson’s behalf.
Further, McCain’s insistence that he is not in bed with lobbyists simply doesn’t ring true. Robert Greenwald’s team at BraveNew Films have documented that McCain has “59 lobbyists raising money for your campaign,” which flies in the face of McCain’s statement, “I’m the only one the lobbyists don’t give any money to.”
It’s only a matter of time, perhaps December 2008, that McCain will come clean, again. Hopefully he will not be president-elect when this occurs. Plenty of time to restart the straight talk express. He’ll only be 80 in 2016.