There is no question the American people care deeply about government corruption. In a Rasmussen Associates poll taken in August 2008, 65% of prospective voters said that government ethics and corruption was a “very important” issue for them in the upcoming election. Only the economy and national security ranked higher, and by just a few percentage points, which is remarkable considering round-the-clock press coverage of the housing market bust, gas prices, and the Iraq war body count.
And yet, while McCain and Obama are pelted daily with questions about every subject under the sun, both candidates have received a free pass from the press on the subject of the ethical skeletons in their (and their political parties’) closets. One can only guess why, but it is certainly not for lack of material on the two candidates.
Take Senator McCain, who was one of five U.S. Senators linked to the infamous “Keating Five scandal” in the 1980s. Between 1982 and 1987, McCain received $112,000 in contributions and other benefits from Charles Keating, Jr. and his associates at the Lincoln Savings & Loan. In 1987, Keating contacted McCain to collect on his investment, reportedly asking the Senator to prevent a government seizure of Lincoln’s assets. McCain subsequently met twice with bank regulators to pressure them on the issue. While a Senate Ethics Committee absolved McCain of any wrongdoing (surprise, surprise), the Arizona Senator was rebuked for his “poor judgment.”
Now, I realize this scandal occurred before some voters in this year’s election were born, but that ought to be no impediment to asking whether Keating Five was an aberration for McCain or a disturbing indication that his public office is for sale.
Besides, we don’t even have to go back two decades to find a scandal with John McCain’s name on it. How about a few months? That’s when the presumptive Republican nominee may have received illegal gifts from foreign nationals in the form of a political fundraiser held in London. (Judicial Watch asked for government investigations of the matter.)
The irony is McCain may have violated campaign finance laws he helped craft through McCain-Feingold, which is supposedly one of the Senator’s crowning achievements. Yet, despite the media’s seemingly insatiable appetite for examples hypocrisy on the part of our elected officials, the McCain-Keating Five scandal and his latest fundraising controversy receive little attention.
And then there’s Barack Obama.
Why is it “off limits” to ask the Illinois Senator about his relationship with unapologetic domestic terrorist William Ayers? Why has most of the press refused to probe Obama’s suspicious land deal with Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who was recently jailed in a massive public corruption probe? Have you noticed the massive amount of press coverage given to officials who have received preferential loan terms from mortgage companies in exchange for favors? (See Senators Dodd and Conrad.) So why did Obama’s “super jumbo loan,” which he received at a below-market rate, not make it above the fold?
Why has the media refused to hold Obama accountable for the shocking lack of a “paper trail” with respect to his record as an Illinois State Senator? Obama comes from Chicago and Illinois, among the most corrupt political cultures in the country, yet his involvement in that culture has escaped much scrutiny.
Clearly the American people want (and deserve) answers to questions that remain, so far, unasked.
There is a serious disconnect between the voters and the press when it comes to the issue of ethics and these two candidates. There is clearly public demand for information regarding the ethics of politicians and no lack of material on these two candidates from which to draw.
Until next week…