"I feel a bit sorry for us here in America, where presidential campaigns have all the depth and verisimilitude of one interminably long infomercial..."
John Highsmith

McCain's Gravy

"Haunted by Spirits" (John Dougherty and Amy Silverman, February 17) is a fascinating and expertly written piece. As a McCain supporter, I found it shocking. I have two problems with your assertions regarding possible ethical improprieties on McCain's part:

He acknowledges his own "dirty" history regarding campaign financing, including his relationship with the liquor lobby (though possibly not to the extent that some would prefer; the liberal press will make sure to crucify him on this in due time).

James Hensley's criminal past has little to do with McCain personally. This wouldn't be the first president elected largely from bootlegging money. For that matter, he certainly wouldn't be the first deadbeat in the White House, having been placed there via his wife's money/connections. Did Bill Clinton ever hold a legitimate job? Didn't seem to hurt his campaign. The left-skewed media helped out the old boy again and forgot all about it. You should write about this phenomenon. Great article, anyway.

Brad Huddleston
Queens, New York

I logged on to your Web site from Philadelphia because I was interested in knowing why Senator McCain is not as well supported in his home state as elsewhere. Pennsylvania's governor is well thought of here, and so are senators Specter and Santorum; there is nothing like the rancor that McCain seems to generate in Arizona -- especially from fellow Republican elected officials like the Arizona governor.

I like a lot of what McCain stands for, and he has been elected many times and I am sure many of the electorate know his Hensley connections and of the Hensley backing, and it seems acceptable.

I have questions about campaign-finance reform. I really don't think it will work. I think it limits free expression, and someone like Senator McCain would never have mounted a viable race without considerable support from Hensley and, of course, Charles Keating. Great article.

Bob Guzzardi
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What a great piece! Thorough, and accurate (as far as I can tell). You've begun to unleash the media beast that's been so kind to your senator!

George A. Hacker, director
Alcohol Policies Project
The Center for Science in the Public Interest
Washington, D.C.

First time a Vietnam vet gets a true shot at running this great country, and his hometown smears his face in the mud. Who cares who he married, or if the enemy tied his ropes tight or not? Fact is, people, he was a POW for five-plus years. Can we say that about the other candidates? McCain will be good for this country and will send a strong message to other nations that we are strong. I do hope the fine state of Arizona wakes up and rallies behind John McCain.

Tim O'Rourke
via Internet

"Haunted by Spirits," or "how crooked booze wholesalers from Arizona put John McCain on the political map," is yet another thorough masterpiece from John Dougherty and Amy Silverman. It looks like James Hensley will be the first corrupt liquor baron since Joe Kennedy to put a relative in the White House. Another proud first for Arizona! One question still unanswered is why Cindy McCain was stealing drugs from a charity. Free Budweiser for life isn't enough?

Paul Schneider
via Internet

Again New Times leads head and shoulders over the pack in terms of bringing us real information about just who is running for public office -- in this case, the highest in the land, president. And I'm referring specifically to the extensive article in the February 17 issue, on Senator John McCain and his in-laws, some of whom (on his wife's side of the family) were convicted outlaws in terms of bootlegging and tax evasion here in Arizona, which, needless to say, does not necessarily disqualify relatives running for public office.

Sometimes what inevitably disqualifies people running for public office is the candidate themselves, once their real self oozes out from behind the faÁade of their carefully researched image, as happened (the cameras themselves don't lie) to John McCain in the aftermath of his loss in South Carolina, during his concession speech, in which he was decidedly less than gracious or sweet, but suddenly ugly. Shades of that alleged temper.

I feel a bit sorry for us here in America, where presidential campaigns have all the depth and verisimilitude of one interminably long infomercial, punctuated only by an honest mistake made by the candidate(s) or an honest and in-depth article in New Times.

John Highsmith

Thank you for a well-researched and detail-packed article. Unfortunately, most readers will blow this off as sour grapes and no more related to McCain's own character than the recent disclosure of slave ownership in his family tree. The slave issue is a real non-issue as Senator McCain himself had no more control over his family business three generations ago than you or I have over our distant relatives. It is a smear tactic and too petty to even mention.

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