McCain Shame

These days, with the GOP in free-fall and America's 51st state (better known as Iraq) a bloody neocon nightmare, who's waiting in the wings polishing his halo and patting down his white horse? Well, AZ's own Senator John McCain, who expects to dispatch Democrat dragon-lady Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential race with minimum bother.

Thing is, McCain's meaner than the Biblical Cain, and has his share of Abel corpses in the closet to prove it. This dastardly duck was reminded of same in reading an advance copy of Senator Dennis DeConcini: From the Center of the Aisle. The pinto Dem's political memoir, penned with the aid of Arizona State University history professor Jack August, is due out in November and pulls no punches in depicting McCain as a backstabbin' scalawag in relation to the notorious Keating 5 scandal of the late '80s.

In case you were in diapers, the Keating 5 was no late-'60s surf band but, rather, made up of a quintet of U.S. senators who took sizeable contributions raised by banking/real estate tycoon Charles Keating and then went to bat for the future felon by hounding regulators looking into Keating's S&L shenanigans. In addition to senators McCain and DeConcini, the group included senators John Glenn, Don Riegel and Alan Cranston.

DeConcini, who took $85K from Keating and pals, realizes his involvement was a boo-boo, but lamely claims he was just trying to help one of the Zona's then-largest employers. The D-man bore the brunt of the criticism back then, mainly 'cause McCain was busy playing Richard III, stepping all over DeConcini and others so he'd come out smellin' like Ann Coulter's eau de cologne.

That's pretty effin' ironic considering McCain made out like a bandito, scoring a whopping $112K from Keating's efforts. Indeed, McCain and the slimy S&L-er were thick as thieves. While serving in the House from 1983 to 1986, McCain flew with Keating to the latter's private retreat in the Bahamas aboard Keating corporate aircraft. And the senator's trophy wife, Cindy McCain, along with her pops, invested $359K in a Phoenix shopping mall developed by an offshoot of Keating's American Continental Corporation.

McCain, DeConcini dryly notes, "on a number of occasions failed to report these things." Still, DeConcini caught more hell, and alleges this was because Republican bulldog Robert Bennett, who was leading the Senate's ethics investigation, steered it away from McCain, the scandal's sole Republican.

Bennett wanted to put the kibosh on the charges against McCain to help make this "a Democrat scandal," DeConcini declares. Bennett suggested that Dem John Glenn be exonerated "in order to appear nonpartisan," according to DeConcini.

The Tucson pol also details at length why he believes McCain leaked damaging and misleading information to the press during the investigation.

It's not just DeConcini alleging that McCain's a sneaky little shit. According to a February 2006 story in the Boston Globe, a General Accounting Office investigator who worked the case said circumstantial evidence against McCain as a leaker was overwhelming and that "there was documentary evidence to buttress the GAO's suspicions, although he said he was barred from discussing it."

The investigator told the Globe that when he laid out the evidence to McCain, the senator blew his stack.

"Senator McCain has a reputation as a stand-up guy, but his reaction that day was to point the finger," chirped Clark B. Hall. The investigator found McCain's finger-pointing "contemptible" and "consistent with the leaks themselves, which were intended to shift the blame elsewhere." Hall said the Ethics Committee report on the leaks "was smoothed over" to McCain's benefit.

Although an investigation of the leaks came "to no conclusions about the sources," DeConcini concludes, "I am on the record as saying that 'I have little doubt that McCain was responsible.'"

In the end, McCain reimbursed Keating $13,433 for the flights and vacations. And since his failure to report the gifts occurred while he was in the House of Representatives, the Senate Ethics Committee decided those were House matters. The House, for its part, did nothing.

McCain may think he's polished the scandal's stain off his halo. But if you get close enough to the guy, the tarnish can still be detected.

Noam's Nimrods

Come closer, bird-brains. This wicked whippoorwill wants to whisper the name of the radical, blame-America blowhard who partly inspired the controversial list of 54 factoids and quotes cut into the humongo steel Funyun down at Wesley Bolin Plaza, a Funyun otherwise known as AZ's 9/11 Memorial.

Noam Chomsky. Yep, the way-left loon's slim volume 9/11 was one of six books listed in the bibliography of research notes from which the memorial's designers cribbed statements to etch into the Funyun.

Mere mention of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist and American foreign policy critic sends rightists into convulsive spit-fits along the lines of those induced by George Soros and Bill Clinton. Chomsky's slim, 128-page pamphlet is a fine example why. In it Chomsky alleges the United States is a "terrorist state," while simultaneously condemning the 9/11 attacks on America.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons