McCain’s good old days

In a campaign that’s already featured the usual flurries of cheap shots, I’ve been kinda wondering why the Democrats have not made more use of Mr. McCain’s involvement in the savings and loan scandal of the late 1980s and early ’90s. Fortunately, that is changing as you read.

Remember “The Keating Five?” Yep, ole Grampy was 20 percent of that besmirched quintet. So why haven’t the Dems been mining this particular vein o’ dirt? (The K5 scandal, for those needing a quick review, involved the head of Lincoln Savings, Charles Keating, and his association with McCain and four other senators. Keating wanted help in getting federal bank regulators off his back because they were getting close to finding out that Keating was running a pretty shaky scene at Lincoln. Keating was like the proverbial frog in the pot who was beginning to sense that the water was getting undeniably hot. He called on his senatorial pals, all beneficiaries of big Lincoln campaign donations, to help get the feds off his back. Indeed, in April of ’89, Keating uncorked a quote for the ages when he said, “One question, among many raised in recent weeks, had to do with whether my financial support in any way influenced several political figures to take up my cause. I want to say in the most forceful way I can: I certainly hope so.” In the end, Lincoln was taken over by the government, and Keating did five years in the klink for his illegal financial manipulations.

McCain actually managed to slither away from this muck with a political career. He took a hit, but not a fatal one. While he certainly didn’t look good in this mess, he didn’t get nailed as hard as some of the others. You may recall the name of Alan Cranston, whose political career was toast after receiving an official reprimand from the Senate Ethics Committee that investigated the affair. McCain got a slap on the wrist from that same committee, which declared his involvement with Keating to be minimal. It cleared him of all charges except poor judgment. McCain quickly apologized for his part in the drama, calling his meetings with Keating “the worst mistake of my life.”

Back in the Sept. 11 issue, I wrote that Obama was a co-sponsor of the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2003, the senate bill put forth by McCain and Lieberman that would limit American carbon dioxide emissions, among other things. Enough readers out there in the Neon Babylon wondered how this could be, since Obama didn’t become a member of the Senate until January 4, 2005. Good call, folks! Which leads me to point out that the bill has been re-introduced every other year since ’03, and that Obama indeed was one of the co-sponsors of the ’05 and ’07 versions.