November 3, 2008 / by emptywheel


McCain Was The Most Reprehensible Of The Keating Five And He Hasn’t Changed

McCain & Keating Bahama Buds

McCain & Keating Bahama Boondoggle

Teddy at the Campaign Silo pointed out yesterday, citing a damning new article in The New Republic, that John McCain was almost certainly the source for a set of illegal leaks during the Keating Five investigation — leaks that, if proven, would have been cause for his expulsion from the United States Senate for perjury, not to mention the underlying corruption and malfeasance from his relationship with Charlie Keating.

As The New Republic related:

One day in early March 1986, John McCain, an Arizona congressman, sat down to write a letter. McCain had heard that a long-time friend and donor, Charles Keating, was upset for being listed as a member of McCain’s campaign finance committee when a more prominent position would seem more appropriate. So McCain apologized. Needlessly it turned out, for "Charlie," as he signed his letter, would reply a few days later: "John, don’t be silly. You can call me anything…I’m yours until death do us part."

The entire article is a must read; it is a brutally clear exhibition of John McCain’s deeply ingrained, pathological, self serving dishonesty and soulless backstabbing lack of honor.

Now the thing that most, if not all, have overlooked here is the timing of Charlie Keating’s retort; it is not just that it was before McCain was sworn in as a United States Senator, it was right as Keating was pumping big money into McCain’s general election campaign for his first run at Barry Goldwater’s old Senate seat.

Charlie Keating wasn’t helping a friend, he was buying what he considered to be a future President. And they both knew it.

As Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Tom Fitzpatrick, who knew McCain intimately, both socially and professionally, presciently said back in 1989:

You’re John McCain, a fallen hero who wanted to become president so desperately that you sold yourself to Charlie Keating, the wealthy con man who bears such an incredible resemblance to The Joker. Obviously, Keating thought you could make it to the White House, too.

He poured $112,000 [amount later shown to be far greater] into your political campaigns. He became your friend. He threw fund raisers in your honor. He even made a sweet shopping-center investment deal for your wife, Cindy. Your father-in-law, Jim Hensley, was cut in on the deal, too.

Nothing was too good for you. Why not? Keating saw you as a prime investment that would pay off in the future.

So he flew you and your family around the country in his private jets. Time after time, he put you up for serene, private vacations at his vast, palatial spa in the Bahamas. All of this was so grand. You were protected from what Thomas Hardy refers to as "the madding crowd." It was almost as though you were already staying at a presidential retreat.

Twenty years later and Fitzpatrick’s words still drill right into the dishonorable heart of John Sidney McCain III.

What kind of man was Charlie Keating buying? A man just like himself; a man who was all ambition and no conscience. A man completely self centered and who had no compunction bleeding senior citizens dry, bullying and berating adversaries and corrupting the process of government. A man like John McCain.

It was a Faustian bargain. It was also a bad joke on the rest of us and a disaster for many old people who lost their life’s savings to Keating.

The money was never really Keating’s to give. But he never would have got his hands on it if you and the rest of the Keating Five didn’t halt the government takeover for two long years while Keating’s people continued their looting.

And now, the tab for the Savings and Loan heist must be paid from taxpayer pockets.

But the most telling part about John McCain is not that he was centrally involved in the Keating Savings & Loan scandal, many politicians get involved in political corruption scandals. Four others, although to a far lesser extent, were indeed involved alongside McCain in the Keating scandal. As bad as that was, the worse, and telling part about John McCain, was the lying and backstabbing of his friends and associates for the sole reason of saving his own pitiful skin. John Sidney McCain did not hesitate for one split second to plant and twist the shiv in the back of everybody around him, from Charlie Keating himself to his fellow Senators.

It was, and is to this date, classic John McCain. More from the late, great Tom Fitzpatrick in 1989:

Since Keating’s collapse, you find yourself doing obscene things to save yourself from the Senate Ethics Committee’s investigation. As a matter of course, you engage in backbiting behavior that will turn you into an outcast in the Senate if you do survive.

Those who survive will be the sociopaths who can tell a lie with the most sincere, straight face. You are especially adept at this.

You sought out a master criminal like Keating and became his friend. Now you’ve discarded him. It shouldn’t be surprising that you are now in the process of selling out your senatorial accomplices.

You’re John McCain, clearly the guiltiest, most culpable and reprehensible of the Keating Five. (emphasis added)

Pat Murphy, the former editor and publisher of McCain’s hometown newspaper, The Arizona Republic, is another man who knew McCain well, as both a close friend and professional subject. Murphy had these words of wisdom and caution on the eve of McCain’s last Presidential run in 2000:

Those of us who’ve known John McCain since he began his Arizona political career made two mistakes.

First, overestimating the Washington media’s willingness to look beyond a politician’s self-serving façade.

Second, underestimating McCain’s skill in camouflaging his bullyboy ways and reincarnating himself as a lovable maverick glowing with political virtue.

If McCain becomes President, America will have more than a prickly president with a low boiling point. He carries grudges, fibs rather than admits mistakes, cannot endure criticism, threatens revenge, controls by fear, is consumed with self-importance.

My friends, this is the once and future John Sidney McCain III. It is an angry, unattractive and dishonorable picture, but it is the real deal. The real McCain. The singularly self serving, erratic, say and do anything dishonesty and perfidy exhibited in his campaign against Barack Obama are proof positive that he is indeed the same old McCain.

John McCain hasn’t changed, he never will. And he is not fit to serve as President of the United States.

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