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Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman

Posted: July 21, 2008 01:22 AM

Is McCain Surrounded by Nothing but Crooks?


What do you get if you cross an influence-peddler with a war profiteer? According to Lindsay Beyerstein of Majikthise, you get John McCain's senior foreign policy adviser.

It's about as ugly a story as you can imagine, with Randy Scheunemann's cronies bragging to potential investors that his role in getting us bogged down in Iraq gives him such strong influence with the U.S. government that the various 'Stans will give oil leases on concessional terms in order to have that influence working for them instead of against them. One of his co-perpetrators is Stephen Payne, the Bush fundraiser whom Bush put on the Homeland Security Advisory Council who just got caught selling access to U.S. officials for donations to the Bush library.

In a just world, this would be the end for McCain. He's now had to dump his chief economic adviser and two spiritual advisers in a row, as well as assorted crooked lobbyists and hangers-on. This raises real questions about his judgment.

But since the story is slightly complicated (not that it can't be told straightforwardly, but it has several moving parts), doesn't involve anyone black, wasn't dug up by a mainstream media outlet, and won't be pumped by Matt Drudge or his mini-me Mark Halperin, it's likely to sink without a trace.

Some Congressional hearings on Payne and his buddies, with Scheunemann called as a witness, might change that. But don't hold your breath.