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Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Today, we learn that Sarah Palin doesn’t speak for the McCain campaign:

Over the summer, there were a series of instances in which John McCain would say something, and McCain aides would walk it back by saying the candidate doesn’t actually speak for the candidate’s campaign. At one point, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, one of McCain’s top advisors, said that just because McCain says something publicly about a policy, “that doesn’t mean it’s official.”

This morning, McCain took a similar tack with Sarah Palin.


Sen. John McCain retracted Sarah Palin’s stance on Pakistan Sunday morning, after the Alaska governor appeared to back Sen. Barack Obama’s support for unilateral strikes inside Pakistan against terrorists

“She would not…she understands and has stated repeatedly that we’re not going to do anything except in America’s national security interest,” McCain told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos of Palin. “In all due respect, people going around and… sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a
sudden that’s — that’s a person’s position… This is a free country, but I don’t think most Americans think that that’s a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin.”

I see. So, just because Sarah Palin says something in public doesn’t mean Palin actually believes what she’s saying. And for goodness sakes, no one should think that Palin’s comments are a reflection of the campaign’s position on an issue.


Can I just ask one small question here? Thank you. If John McCain doesn’t speak for his campaign, and his running mate Sarah Palin doesn’t speak for his campaign, just why the fuck are we supposed to vote for them?

While we’re at it, would somebody please tell me why we would want to vote for a man with a gambling problem?


We talked the other day about John McCain’s affinity for gambling — literally with games of chance, and figuratively with taking enormous risks — to the point that even some
Republicans concede that McCain is “
on the borderline of what is acceptable.”

But in a striking and well-researched piece, the New York Times’ Jo Becker and Don Van Natta report today on the extent of McCain’s gambling interests and gambling ties.


Senator John McCain was on a roll. In a room reserved for high-stakes gamblers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, he tossed $100 chips around a hot craps table. When the marathon session ended around 2:30 a.m., the Arizona senator and his entourage emerged with thousands of dollars in winnings.

A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party’s evangelical base, opponents of gambling. Mr. McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who
represents that casino, according to three associates of Mr. McCain.

The visit had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequot, a tribe that has contributed heavily to Mr. McCain’s campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world’s second-largest casino. Joining them was Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s current campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just Mr. McCain’s affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.


That appears to be an understatement. McCain has more than 40 top advisers and fundraisers who have lobbied or worked for gambling interests. Several of McCain’s closest personal friends are casino executives. He receives more money from the gambling industry than almost any member of Congress, especially those outside Nevada and New Jersey. And he loves
heading to casinos, traveling to Las Vegas regularly for “weekend betting marathons,” overruling aides who’ve asked him to consider the appearances — not only of a man who gambles too much, but also of a senator who has enormous oversight responsibilities of the gaming industry.


Gambling isn’t a hot-button issue for me, but this is why I find McCain’s penchant to play the odds disturbing. First, it’s not a part of his personality he seems to be able to turn off: he’s as impulsive with policy decisions and political choices (Palin, anyone?) as he is with the games. Secondly, he favors games of chance, not strategy – which can speak to a personality that doesn’t like to fiddle with details, carefully assess risks, and in general isn’t the kind of attitude you’d like to see in a president. Thirdly, there’s the fact he’s immersed so deeply in the gaming industry. It’s one thing to play a few games. It’s quite another to have forty fucking advisers and fundraisers who have such close ties to that industry.

And McCain does them favors, such as getting rivals out of the way:


McCain often brags that he led the Senate investigation into fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who overbilled his Indian tribal clients millions of dollars. However, the New York Times reports that lobbyists in 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“:


For McCain-connected lobbyists who were rivals of Mr. Abramoff, the scandal presented a chance to crush a competitor. For senior McCain advisers, the inquiry allowed them to collect fees from the very Indians that Mr. Abramoff had ripped off. And the investigation enabled Mr. McCain to confront political enemies who helped defeat him in his 2000 presidential run while polishing his maverick image.


After firing Abramoff, the Coushatta tribe hired lobbyist Hance Scarborough, who had been friends with McCain since the ’80s. Scarborough charged the tribe nearly $1.3 million for 11 months of work, although his firm produced few tangible results. In 2005, Scarborough also put McCain’s then-chief strategist John Weaver on the tribe’s payroll. The Coushattas said it was like the Abramoff scandal “happening all over again.”


That doesn’t sound like a man who’s going to clean up Washington, does it?

Unless, of course, your definition of “clean up” is “rob blind.”

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