This is Sunday, the day of the week when Americans typically stop what they are doing and turn on their televisions to pay homage to Senator John McCain - a Sunday morning talk show institution. Nearly every Sunday Johnny Mac finds some national news outlet that will give him a platform to blather on and on about things of which he has strong opinions and limited knowledge. The fact that all of these news organizations see fit to continually showcase this angry political gnome says far more about them and their lack of interest in varying viewpoints than it does about him.
This looks as though it could be a very tough year for the Arizona windbag. He faces at least token teabag opposition in the Republican primary as he struggles to win his sixth term in the Senate, and popular Democratic congresswoman Ann Kirpatrick has already announced that she will run against McCain in the general election. Any sort of national Democratic tide in 2016 could serve to drag the former Navy captain out to sea in a leaky dinghy - undoubtedly kicking and screaming as he usually does.
McCain first entered the U.S. Senate in January of 1987 and within two years he was immersed in a national scandal known as the Keating Five. McCain and four other esteemed senators were accused of corruption due to their direct intercession on behalf of a savings-and-loan mogul whose empire was collapsing. McCain was found to have used "bad judgment" in accepting cash from Charles Keating on behalf of his Lincoln Savings and Loan, but he managed to retain his career at the public trough. It was a wake-up call for the terrified freshman who then vowed to clean up government - and himself.
Nearly thirty years later, neither appears to have been accomplished.
This week I received a newsletter from Johnny Mac - I guess due to to my status as a former resident of Arizona. The first article in that newsletter was a piece where McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, patted himself on the back for getting the Pentagon's fiscal 2016 budget (the National Defense Authorization Act) out of committee and headed onto the Senate floor. McCain's newsletter talked about all of the great things that the new budget will do for Arizona and particularly Luke and Davis-Monthan air force bases. He even bragged about preserving a type of plane for Davis-Monthan that the President - and presumably the Pentagon - does not want. But Johnny Mac will get to keep his unnecessary and expensive planes because the bill is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. When it eventually reaches President Obama's desk, the President will be forced to accept all of the graft and gravy that has been stuffed into it, or reject (veto) the entire thing.
And we wonder why our taxes are so high!
One thing Johnny Mac did not mention in his newsletter was a particular item that he and his fellow Arizona senator, Jeff Flake, stuffed into the bill at the last minute. That item will give control of several hundred acres of an Apache holy ground called Oak Flat to a British-Australian mining company whose parent company has donated campaign cash to John McCain. The other senator involved, Jeff Flake, once served as a lobbyist for the same company.
President Eisenhower's administration decreed in 1955 that Oak Flat was to remain free of mining. Ike was a whole different breed of Republican from those who claim the appellation today.
Apparently John McCain remembers little or nothing of his near disaster with the Keating Five affair. Here's hoping that other Arizonans do remember!