The Barack Obama campaign has decided to attack John McCain over his involvement in the Keating 5 scandal of the 1980s, but they have already demonstrated a rather peculiar way of doing it. Team O deduces that a rehash of the 20-year-old scandal may resonate with the current financial crisis, which may be true. If so, perhaps they should re-think their surrogate lineup:
When the astronaut made way for the Boss on the Oval, 10,000 people roared in unison, “Bruuuuce!”
“You don’t get introduced by John Glenn every day,” Bruce Springsteen said, breaking into an impromptu version of Mr. Spaceman.
The Ohio State University campus was in a festive mood yesterday as the rock legend performed a seven-song, solo acoustic set on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. The free event, one of several Springsteen is doing for the Illinois senator, highlighted Ohio’s early-voting law.
John Glenn? Senator John Glenn got caught in the same Keating 5 scandal that Obama now wants to use as an attack on McCain. The Keating 5 — Senators Alan Cranston, Dennis DeConcini, Donald Riegle, Glenn, and McCain — stood accused of intervening with federal regulators on behalf of Lincoln Savings & Loan, which later went bankrupt and cost taxpayers $2 billion. Glenn and McCain got cleared by the Senate of any wrongdoing, but were scolded for “poor judgment” in their contacts with Charles Keating. Cranston, DeConcini, and Riegle all were found by the Senate Ethics Committee of having “substantially and improperly” interfered with the regulator (FHLBB) when it attempted to investigate Lincoln. Cranston received a formal reprimand, and only Glenn and McCain won re-election after the scandal.
Is the Keating 5 scandal a legitimate political issue in this campaign? Yes. It involves McCain’s judgment and political record, and Obama can certainly raise it as a point for voters to consider. However, McCain has never denied using poor judgment in this case and has repeatedly apologized for it. He used that experience to commit himself to reforming the political system, angering fellow Republicans in fighting earmarks and pushing for campaign-finance reform. He has put his political career at risk with his partnerships with Russ Feingold and other Democrats in this mission, all of which springs from his close brush with dishonor over the Keating 5 scandal.
Obama, on the other hand, has never fought anyone for reform, and the use of John Glenn as a surrogate makes Team Obama especially hypocritical in raising the Keating scandal. If Glenn is clean, then so is McCain. If McCain is tarnished, then so is Glenn. Obviously, Glenn helps Obama in Ohio, so Obama has no real complaint over the Keating 5 scandal that outweighs his desire to win the election. Like so much of Obama’s reform rhetoric, his faux outrage over the Keating 5 scandal shows him as nothing more than a poseur.