The Unreported McCain

August 9th, 2008at 03:52pm Posted by Eli

I just finished reading this amazing story by Amy Silverman in the Phoenix New Times, all about the ugly side of John McCain that the supposedly pro-Obama media never ever talks about.  Some highlights (or lowlights):

Even now that McCain’s the one whining that Obama’s getting all the good press in this presidential race, you still don’t see a lot in the national media really damning the guy….


No one seems to remember Keating much, anymore. Amazing. McCain and his fellow Arizonan, Democrat Dennis DeConcini, were hauled before the Senate Ethics Committee along with three other senators to explain their actions on behalf of Keating’s Lincoln Savings and Loan.

Keating gave the senators hefty campaign contributions, then called on them to meet with bank regulators to pressure them to go soft on an investigation of Lincoln. There were two infamous meetings. McCain attended both.


[W]hat often gets lost in the retelling is McCain’s close personal relationship with Keating. McCain took trips with Keating, including to his retreat in the Bahamas, and reimbursed him only after the fact was made public.


You may be surprised to know that in 1987 and 1988, McCain voted against federal legislation reforming the campaign finance system. It was only in 1990, in the aftermath of Keating and the shadow of an upcoming re-election campaign, that he started supporting reform. Ditto for his efforts to cut government spending.

And I’ve got to pause to say something about both of those efforts. In a word, they’re a farce. McCain famously sponsored a law designed to control special interests’ grip on Washington, but at the same time, he took money from those interests. Years ago, I analyzed McCain’s contributions, compared with the favors he dealt as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee (“An Endowed Chair,” November 25, 1999).


I learned the [media] love lesson firsthand during the 2000 election, when — cajoled into doing an interview about McCain for a piece by TV newsmagazine 20/20 — I flew back and forth to Washington in a single day to be interviewed by Sam Donaldson, only to learn later from his producers that, whoops, Donaldson had decided he really liked McCain and didn’t want to include anything negative in his profile.


“During lunch, McCain said, almost with mischievous glee, that he had slipped some highly technical questions to [James McClure] to ask [new Democratic governor due to impeachment, Rose] Mofford — questions she wouldn’t be prepared to answer or expected to answer.

“Flabbergasted, I asked McCain why would he want to sabotage Mofford’s testimony, when in fact the [Central Arizona Project] was the nonpartisan pet of Republicans and Democrats — such as far-left Udall and far-right Goldwater — since its inception.

“His reply, as near as I remember, was, ‘I’ll embarrass a Democrat any time I get the chance.'”


[Bob] Neuman, who worked for Udall for many years in the 1970s and again in the ’80s, says McCain “clung to Mo,” that he dropped by the office unannounced all the time. This became awkward during the 1986 Senate race, Neuman says, when Arizona Democratic Party operatives worried that McCain was using Udall as a campaign tool. They asked Neuman to put some distance between the two.

Udall’s aide tried to be subtle, but McCain got the message. And Neuman felt his wrath. He refuses to repeat the expletives the then-congressman used when he called to bawl him out, but recalls thinking there was something really wrong with the guy.


[Barry Goldwater Jr’s book Pure Goldwater] reports that for a while after the 1986 senate race, the men got along, but that Goldwater’s feelings toward McCain started to “cool” after the Keating scandal, and he “soon found he had to stop McCain from using his good name.”

Things really got ugly, according to the book — and accompanying letters — when McCain decided to throw an event honoring Goldwater that was really meant as a fundraiser for McCain. Goldwater wrote to McCain, chastising him and telling him that he didn’t wish to be honored. He also instructed McCain to donate half the proceeds to the Arizona Republican Party. The event wound up as a tribute to Ronald Reagan, instead. Goldwater did speak there, but was unhappy afterward, as he wrote to McCain:

“You will recall during my speech at the dinner for the president in Phoenix, I announced that you were going to give half of the funds you raised to the State Republican Party. I am told by the Party, that you still owe them $35,000, and unless you pay all of it, or most of it, they cannot meet their payroll next Wednesday.


Watching him up on the stage, struggling with the teleprompter, Cindy looking miserable next to him, I almost pitied the GOP’s presumptive nominee. No more nasty jokes, no public outbursts. He’s reduced to talking about climate change and accusing Obama of being the media’s flavor of the day.

“Don’t feel sorry for him,” a friend said. “The guy might wind up president.”

Do read the whole thing.  It’s very long, but absolutely fascinating and utterly unlike the sanitized Straight-Talking Maverick image (or at worst, rough-around-the-edges hot-tempered scamp) that most of the media are still treating as gospel truth.

Entry Filed under: McCain,Media,Politics

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