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Hullabaloo


Sunday, September 28, 2008

 
I Said No, No, No

by digby


I don't know about you, but McCain's dizzying Britney-like behavior last week screams "I don't want to go to rehab." The next thing you know he'll be speaking in a British accent and shaving his head...

And according to today's NY Times, he actually does have at the very least a potential gambling problem. In more ways than one:


Perhaps no episode burnished Mr. McCain’s image as a reformer more than his stewardship three years ago of the Congressional investigation into Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican Indian gambling lobbyist who became a national symbol of the pay-to-play culture in Washington. The senator’s leadership during the scandal set the stage for the most sweeping overhaul of lobbying laws since Watergate.

“I’ve fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes,” the senator said in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination this month.

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.

Mr. McCain’s campaign said the senator acted solely to protect American Indians, even though the inquiry posed “grave risk to his political interests.”

As public opposition to tribal casinos has grown in recent years, Mr. McCain has distanced himself from Indian gambling, Congressional and American Indian officials said.

But he has rarely wavered in his loyalty to Las Vegas, where he counts casino executives among his close friends and most prolific fund-raisers. “Beyond just his support for gaming, Nevada supports John McCain because he’s one of us, a Westerner at heart,” said Sig Rogich, a Nevada Republican kingmaker who raised nearly $2 million for Mr. McCain at an event at his home in June.

Only six members of Congress have received more money from the gambling industry than Mr. McCain, and five hail from the casino hubs of Nevada and New Jersey, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics dating back to 1989. In the presidential race, Senator Barack Obama has also received money from the industry; Mr. McCain has raised almost twice as much.


So, reformer McCain's Abramoff investigations actually ended up benefiting his contributors and lobbyists who are now working on his campaigns? How convenient. Are there any of his vaunted reform credentials that aren't complete bullshit?

And on a personal level, the maverick seems to really, really like to gamble under stress, which his behavior in picking Palin and the antics last week suggest is exactly what's happening:

In May 2007, as Mr. McCain’s presidential bid was floundering, he spent a weekend at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas strip. A fund-raiser hosted by J. Terrence Lanni, the casino’s top executive and a longtime friend of the senator, raised $400,000 for his campaign. Afterward, Mr. McCain attended a boxing match and hit the craps tables.

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. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We were always concerned about appearances,” one former official said. “If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter.”

The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: “Do we really have to go to a casino? I don’t think it’s a good idea. The base doesn’t like it. It doesn’t look good. And good things don’t happen in casinos at midnight.”

“You worry too much,” Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.


McCain needs to worry a bit more. His corrupt ties to lobbyists in the face of his constant hectoring about integrity is very revealing. The man clearly protests too much. More importantly, we should all worry that this erratic, intemperate flyboy is a big time gambler who plays with big time stakes. He certainly rolled the dice on Palin and that could have huge consequences both for his ability to win the election --- and for the country should he manage to eke out a victory.

These days McCain looks much less like a maverick and more like someone who's got problems and can't ask for help.


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