John McCain has fashioned his appeal as the Republican presidential candidate around two self-proclaimed virtues—his bombastic temper only erupts when defending his honor and he's now a born-again ethical purist since being caught as one of the Keating Five in the corruption scandal of master swindler and Arizona developer Charles Keating.
However, both claims withered in the past week under the intense scrutiny of New York Times and Washington Post investigative reporters who've produced damning rebukes to McCain.
Any reasonable person can conclude from the well-documented reports is that McCain is a poseur, a man trying to shamelessly deceive voters about his character.
The Post's report (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/19/AR2008041902224.html), based on extensive interviews in Arizona, found that McCain's temper virtually always involves a feeling of being slighted, not questioning his honor. He then lashes out and demands a person be fired for offending him or not complying with a demand. McCain's vindictiveness, as more reporters are noting, covers a multitude of people, from Senate colleagues to lowly bureaucrats. One of his pettiest firing demands involved a workman who unwittingly provided a lectern too tall for the 5-foot-9-inch McCain, who thereupon was almost hidden from TV cameras.
As for his new code of ethics of disdaining lobbyists and forgoing using his muscle to help developers, McCain claims to have learned his lesson since being chastised by the Senate in 1991 for interceding with regulators in behalf of Charles Keating.
However, in a lengthy piece published Tuesday (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/us/politics/22diamond.html?hp), The New York Times discovered a long history of McCain lending a hand to prominent mega developer Don Diamond—including in years after the Keating scandal. In one such deal, Diamond made a $20 million profit helped along by McCain, who wrote a letter in behalf of Diamond calling him "an uncommonly dedicated public citizen, an honorable and respected member of the Arizona community and a close personal friend."
Diamond, an ingratiating 80-year-old who also expanded investments to include the professional Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks for a time, latched onto McCain in 1982 when the former POW was enlisting the help of moneyed Arizona developers for his political career. Diamond has bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions to McCain, the Times found, just as Keating became a major McCain donor.
Did McCain really learn from the Keating Five scandal? As if to mindlessly repeat his behavior, McCain and his wife have been guests of Diamond on his 134-foot yacht in the Bahamas—a virtual encore of his criticized vacations with swindler Keating in the Bahamas.