Barack Goes Keating

06Oct08

The guy who was going to bring us a new kinda politics feels so vulnerable over having his political partners revealed that he’s going back to John McCain’s role in the Keating Five to try to muddle the ‘past associations’ waters. A film will be released today at noon at keatingeconomics.com. Here’s a clip.

This is McCain’s punishment for waiting so long to reveal Barack’s shady past. At this point, the Obama campaign will try to run out the clock and get to the White House without having to face scrutiny over the Obamafia.

As McCain seeks to fall back on the argument against Barack that should have been made 3 months ago, he’ll be portrayed as desperate and dirty, even as Barack uses the same strategy. It should make for an exciting debate tomorrow.

Here’s a quick refresher on the scandal.

McCain calls the Keating scandal “my asterisk.” Over the years, his opponents have failed to turn it into a period.

It all started in March 1987. Charles H Keating Jr., the flamboyant developer and anti-porn crusader, needed help. The government was poised to seize Lincoln Savings and Loan, a freewheeling subsidiary of Keating’s American Continental Corp.

As federal auditors examined Lincoln, Keating was not content to wait and hope for the best. He had spread a lot of money around Washington, and it was time to call in his chits.

One of his first stops was Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz.

The state’s senior senator was one of Keating’s most loyal friends in Congress, and for good reason. Keating had given thousands of dollars to DeConcini’s campaigns. At one point, DeConcini even pushed Keating for ambassador to the Bahamas, where Keating owned a luxurious vacation home.

Now Keating had a job for DeConcini. He wanted him to organize a meeting with regulators to deliver a message: Get off Lincoln’s back. Eventually, DeConcini would set up a meeting with five senators and the regulators. One of them was McCain.

McCain already knew Keating well. His ties to the home builder dated to 1981, when the two men met at a Navy League dinner where McCain spoke.

After the speech, Keating walked up to McCain and told him that he, too, was a Navy flier and that he greatly respected McCain’s war record. He met McCain’s wife and family. The two men became friends.

Charlie Keating always took care of his friends, especially those in politics. McCain was no exception.

In 1982, during McCain’s first run for the House, Keating held a fund-raiser for him, collecting more than $11,000 from 40 employees of American Continental Corp. McCain would spend more than $550,000 to win the primary and the general election.

In 1983, as McCain contemplated his House re-election, Keating hosted a $1,000-a-plate dinner for him, even though McCain had no serious competition. When McCain pushed for the Senate in 1986, Keating was there with more than $50,000.

By 1987, McCain had received about $112,000 in political contributions from Keating and his associates.

McCain also had carried a little water for Keating in Washington. While in the House, McCain, along with a majority of representatives, co-sponsored a resolution to delay new regulations designed to curb risky investments by thrifts such as Lincoln.

Reluctant participant

Despite his history with Keating, McCain was hesitant about intervening. At that point, he had been in the Senate only three months. DeConcini wanted McCain to fly to San Francisco with him and talk to the regulators. McCain refused.

Keating would not be dissuaded.

On March 24 at 9:30 a.m., Keating went to DeConcini’s office and asked him if the meeting with the regulators was on. DeConcini told Keating that McCain was nervous.

“McCain’s a wimp,” Keating replied, according to the book Trust Me, by Michael Binstein and Charles Bowden. “We’ll go talk to him.”

Keating had other business on Capitol Hill and did not reach McCain’s office until 1:30. A DeConcini staffer already had told McCain about the “wimp” insult.

When he arrived, Keating presented McCain with a laundry list of demands for the regulators.

McCain told Keating that he would attend the meeting and find out whether Keating was getting treated fairly but that was all.

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