Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What my opening statements would be...

Ok, if I were writing the opening statement for the Senior Senator, rather than outright attacking the Junior Senator over his ties to terrorists I would instead do the following:

 

My friends, we have tried hard over the last few weeks to bring to the voter’s attention my opponent’s history of poor judgment in his choice of whom he would associate himself with.  This information has been labeled as “attack advertising” or “mudslinging”, but the reality is that the information is true.  Yes, it’s unsavory, but it’s true.  And to be quite honest I’d rather be talking about and critiquing my opponent’s legislative records and history of accomplishment, but that is shockingly thin for someone who aspires to an office as significant as the Presidency of the United States of America.

Tonight, though, I’m going to take a different tone.  I’m going to set aside the so called “attacks” on my opponent and share some honest truth about my own poor judgment in my choice of associates.  Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I was involved in what became known as the “Keating 5 scandal”.  Charles Keating was a big player in Arizona politics and ran the company which controlled the Lincoln Savings and Loan.

I knew Charles Keating and he was a major fundraiser, not only for me but for most successful Arizona politicians.

I was caught up in this scandal because a colleague of mine asked me and 3 other senators to attend a meeting with bank regulators who were investigating Mr. Keating’s banking practices.  My understanding of the intent of these meetings was simply to insure Mr. Keating was being treated fairly, but any time 5 senators are together in a meeting with regulators there is the appearance of impropriety.  I never tried to pressure the regulators, but my very presence there gave the appearance that my colleagues and I were doing just that.

It’s that appearance of impropriety that tainted the early part of my career and it was that appearance of impropriety that drove me to champion campaign finance reform and refuse to ask for earmarks.  Stephen King wrote a story called “The Eye of the Dragon”, and in that story a mother explained to her young son, who would one day be king, that when boys grow up to be kings they get big in a way that can’t be seen, and because of that hurt people just by being careless about where they walk.

That scandal from early in my senate career drove that point home for me.

The most damning part of my association with Charles Keating wasn’t that I actually pressured regulators, because I was completely exonerated of that charge.  The most damning part of that whole, sorry episode was that it gave the appearance of impropriety.

Upon the revelation of how profoundly and deliberately Mr. Keating was breaking the laws I disassociated myself from him, because even associating with someone who cost so many people so much—not just money, but careers and livelihoods—gave the appearance of impropriety even if, as it happened, I was exonerated of any wrong doing.

So that’s why it was important to me to make sure you knew, my friends, who my colleague associated himself with and give him the chance to explain or defend his association with these despicable people.  When I knew what Mr. Keating had been up to, I not only condemned the actions but I disassociated myself from him.  I didn’t just assume he was rehabilitated.  I was done with him.  I haven’t spoken with that man in nearly two decades because I didn’t even want the appearance of impropriety because, my friends, when it comes to character and judgment, both a solid record of accomplishment and appearances matter.

 

Of course, this does 2 things.  It takes the Junior Senator off script AND clears the air with a  little honesty about McCain’s own record, which he is not only able and willing to defend, but has also put out there with complete transparency for others to review—2 things the Junior Senator has not and cannot do (has not because the seedier associations have never been examined with any real zeal and cannot because there really isn’t any record of accomplishment to present).

 

All the same, I’ll be in class tonight so I might have to catch the debate on tape delay.  What joyous fun.

 

 

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