Sunday, September 28, 2008

The McCain Mutiny

The McCain campaign got on the phone to say that the New York Times no longer does journalism. That was supposed to make them shrivel up and die. Since then, they've added to the significant story of how McCain's campaign manager has never stopped getting paid for influence peddling if not lobbying, with Newsweek nailing down even more damning details. Several Times columnists have called VP candidate Palin unqualified and said in no uncertain terms how this reflects badly on the guy who picked her.

Now in Sunday's Times a lengthy story about McCain himself and his long-time involvement with the gambling industry, not to mention with gambling itself. The story shows how, in true organized crime fashion, he and his lobbyist associates (including Rick Davis, his campaign manager) systematically took apart the gaming influence empire of Jack Abramoff, and picked up the pieces for themselves:

"But interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain’s inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention — and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator’s longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show. "

The overall conclusion: "Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors."

"For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain’s patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry."

This story comes as the bank crisis suggests the relevance of McCain's history as a close associate of Charles Keating, who went to jail for his involvement in the Savings and Loan scandals, and as a member of the so-called Keating Five. The media has actually stayed away from this story (Rachel Maddow did a segment on it, as did CNN, though it may yet emerge, especially after this gambling story. Here's Jed Reports 90 second video about it.

Meanwhile, as one scandal for VP candidate Palin seems to recede, another emerges. The Washington Post reports on a possible violation of Alaska state law by Palin, shortly before McCain chose her for his VP candidate, involving her opposition to a state referendum also opposed by the mining industry but supported by environmentalists and fishermen. The referendum was then defeated, making it easier for mining development. The story says: "Mining interests have courted Palin since her inauguration. Northern Dynasty contributed to her inaugural fund, and other mining companies have offered gifts and paid travel expenses for Palin's husband to go on fact-finding trips."

How is the McCain Mutiny faring with the electorate? How convincing has the Obama campaign become?

The day after the debate, where did Obama go? To North Carolina, a state he is not supposed to win and has no business campaigning in to start the final month. Yet North Carolina is still in play, he got a big crowd and he's in playoff form. McCain has been forced to spend money in Indiana and Virginia. Obama is in Colorado again on Monday. These are not states that were in play in 2004. Democratic registration is way up all over the place. Obama continues to climb in the polls--and Sunday will be the first day that polling after the debate will figure into the tracking polls (it will be 1/3.) It will be very interesting to see where Obama campaigns from now on.

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