By Jon Dougherty
The late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) served his country as a Navy fighter pilot and paid the ‘ultimate price’ for his service short of giving his life: He spent nearly six years in captivity as a POW where he was beaten, abused, and mistreated frequently by the North Vietnamese.
That said, John McCain the patriot was far different than John McCain the politician. The former version served his country while the later version served himself and his establishment clubmates in Washington, D.C.
Politically, McCain emerged relatively unscathed from one of the biggest scandals of the 1980s — the “Keating Five” savings and loan debacle that, had justice been served, would have seen five sitting U.S. senators (including McCain) behind bars. The man for which the scandal is named, Charles Keating, did do time.
The New York Times described it this way when reporting his death five years ago nearly to the day on April 2, 2014:
Charles H. Keating Jr., who went to prison and came to symbolize the $150 billion savings-and-loan crisis a generation ago after fleecing thousands of depositors with regulatory help from a group of United States senators known as the Keating Five…
Long story short, millions of Americans lost most or all of their life savings in a bank fraud scheme perpetrated by Keating. The fraudster sought — and received — regulatory protection from McCain and four other senators (Alan Cranston of California, Donald W. Riegle Jr. of Michigan, John Glenn of Ohio and Dennis DeConcini of Arizona), which delayed his savings and loan company’s financial collapse for a couple more years, thus ruining even more people.
McCain got out of the deal with just a love tap on the wrist from the Senate Ethics Committee which, like its House counterpart, is where politicians’ scandals go to die.
He also remained free to run for president — twice — without success. His second run came in 2008 when he became the first of two establishment Republicans to lose to Barack Obama, now known to have been as corrupt as 10 Keating Five scandals.
His running mate was then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a firebrand Republican with a Tea Party political mindset long before the real ‘Tea Party’ movement began. When the election results were in and McCain/Palin came up short, it didn’t take long for McCain to blame her for his failure to connect with enough voters to beat a political neophyte.
McCain carried his bitterness for Palin to his grave, telling Americans in a book published on his death bed that he should’ve never picked Palin to run with him, but “Independent” Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut instead.
Oh, and he didn’t want her coming to his funeral, either, so he banned her just like he banned POTUS Donald Trump (over an insult on the campaign trail in 2016 in which Trump said McCain wasn’t a hero for getting shot down).
Palin discussed the disinvite this week on “Good Morning, Britain,” with Piers Morgan and his co-host.
I wasn’t invited,” she said, adding that despite some harsh words from McCain about her, she nevertheless would have attended because “I am a respectful person.”
“I was kind of surprised to be publicly disinvited to the funeral,” she said.
“They didn’t have to embarrass me and embarrass others,” she said. “And it wasn’t just me, it was other good people in our campaign back in 2008 who were very, very loyal to Senator McCain. (I)t’s kind of a gut punch,” she added.
Well, when you’re bitter and you cling to your bitterness like guns and religion, it guides your behavior.
Palin went on to discuss being selected as the first female VP candidate and way that McCain and his GOP establishment threw her to the curb after 2008.
“It’s been bizarre. When I was tapped to run as the first woman VP candidate on the Republican ticket, I had nearly 90 percent approval rating as the governor of the largest state,” she said.
“It made sense to me and my supporters why John McCain did tap me. But, yeah, once getting out there on that national stage and realizing that there are so many snakes in politics, they are so many snakes in the Republican party who were running the show and allowing me to get clobbered,” Palin said.
“They were looking for someone to blame for their really crappy type of campaign that they ran. I was a scapegoat. That’s in the past though,” she said. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn and I certainly learned through that.”
And so did conservatives: The GOP establishment officially became no different and certainly no better than the Democrat establishment. Nothing has changed today, either.
That’s why we turned out in droves to support POTUS Donald Trump, as Palin has.
“Consider what Trump has been able to accomplish, despite it being a three against one game going on here. You have the Democrats, the media, which is complicit with the Democratic shenanigans and then you have obstructionists in his own party, and despite that the president has enough support of the people, the average forgotten man and woman of America. He has had, relatively speaking, a reasonably wonderful two years,” she said.
All of that is certainly true. What’s also true is that McCain, in the end, got what was coming to him, politically: He was bested by another political neophyte, only this one has America’s best interests at heart.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10