By Stephen C. Rose
In July, I published Is John McCain's Gambling A Problem?, which concluded:
The MSM have gone far enough to identify the McCain proclivity, but not the extent of his losses, the actual possibility of wrongdoing in connection with his gambling or an effective effort to determine whether as President he could avoid gratifying his habit. In short we have had a first round of accounts, a great deal of interest, and no real followup.
A month later I ran a similar piece in Huffington Post -- with a similar conclusion.
I have found that mention of McCain's gambling habit is a persuasive argument to people who are on the fence and wondering who to vote for. The association of gambling with the term neocon and observation of McCain's growing synchronicity with Bush positions is generally enough to convince an inquirer. But these days the teflon mantel seems to be moving to McCain. And to my knowledge no one has raised these questions directly.
Today, in one of the most extensive investigative pieces I have seen of late, the New York Times has not only delved into "actual possibility of wrongdoing in connection with his gambling". It has revealed an essential aspect of John McCain.
The article, by Jo Becker and Don Van Natta, Jr., is titled, McCain and Team Have Many Ties to Gambling Industry
I will conclude this section by publishing four illustrative excerpts, but I want to preface that with mention of a fact about McCain that hit me like a ton of bricks while I slept on the subject last night.
McCain may be a gambler, McCain may be erratic, McCain may have done good things, but if any cumulative picture of McCain emerges from this investigative piece, and from other chapters of his career, it is that he has been a consummate, inside power-player.
McCain's values are me-first and bellicose. McCain's manner is erratic and gambling. But when you cut through bluster, pandering cliche and and outright, in-your-face lying, you find a person who is instinctively able, much of the time, to negotiate the dangers that exist in the labyrinths of power, to bob and weave without regard to past commitments, to fit the circumstance to the new convenience, in short, to operate at the refined quasi-criminal level of a Lyndon Johnson (Tonkin) and a Richard Nixon/Henry Kissinger (lies, lies, lies, as my friend Blll Horwitz once titled an album).
When McCain despises Barack Obama, it because he knows Obama has no clue, is massively naive, cannot bob and weave the way McCain does, juggling interests and doing favors in a subtle penumbra of doublespeak and innuendo and whispered arrangements.
Let me be plain. We have had decent Presidents with decent values and at least a commitment to honesty. They may play games but they meld necessity with some attention to values.
And we have had Presidents like Johnson and Nixon who have known the ins and outs of how to survive and conquer in the labyrinth. The problem is that these "labyrinth Presidents" have not given one tinkers' dam about whether thousands of our young are killed, just to achieve some testosterone point or another.
Interesting that longevity in Congress may tend to exacerbate the hubris!
The decent ones have been more wary and recondite. And have saved many lives in the bargain.
These further probes into McCain's gambling ties should serve as yet another caution:
We do not want a man at the helm whose real inner nature is to throw anyone who gets in his way under the bus, whose concept of power is to be able to get away with murder, whose very gaze -- evasive but menacing -- can connote a kiss of death.
The full post is on my blog http://stephencrosehome.blogspot.com where you will also find 26 carefully chosen Sunday news and opinion links.