McCain's Big Lie

Watching John McCain hold forth at Rick Warren’s Forum last weekend, I was reminded of one of the key principles of propaganda (a subject we study at the Annenberg School for Communication) which is the “Big Lie”. The concept behind it (as Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf ) is to create a web of falsehoods so complete that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”. The little lie he told to Rick Warren about being in a “cone of silence” was nothing compared to the falsehoods at the heart of his image. John McCain’s campaign is based solely on the big lie that he is an independant man of superior character and judgement who is not afraid to buck the power structures of Washington.

It is a Big Lie.

Today I will consider the evidence of McCain’s character. Tomorrow, I will talk about his judgement.


When John McCain married his first wife Carol in 1965, she was a beautiful tall swimwear model with a delicious sense of humor.

But when McCain returned to America in 1973 to a fanfare of publicity and a handshake from Richard Nixon, he discovered his wife had been disfigured in a terrible car crash three years earlier. Her car had skidded on icy roads into a telegraph pole on Christmas Eve, 1969. Her pelvis and one arm were shattered by the impact and she suffered massive internal injuries. When Carol was discharged from hospital after six months of life-saving surgery, the prognosis was bleak. In order to save her legs, surgeons had been forced to cut away huge sections of shattered bone, taking with it her tall, willowy figure. She was confined to a wheelchair and was forced to use a catheter.

McCain, always the flyboy/playboy, quickly lost interest in his crippled wife and started playing around. For a man who had been a “war hero” and from a long family of Navy admirals, his move up to Admiral should have been assured. McCain’s campaign told the New York Times that he would have been promoted to Admiral, but the lure of politics made him leave the Navy. Evidence suggests (McCain refuses to allow the Navy to release his complete service record) that the Navy was not enamored of McCain’s swagger and had no intention of making him an Admiral. Like any ambitious career man, McCain left because his advance was blocked.

Through Ross Perot, who had paid for all of Carol McCain’s many operations (McCain claimed he was broke), McCain met Ronald Reagan and decided that a life in politics was his new career path. But that required money and lots of it. Enter Cindy Hensley, and more importantly her father Jim, a multimillionaire beer distributor with heavy duty Arizona political connections.

In 1979 – while still married to Carol – he met Cindy at a cocktail party in Hawaii. Over the next six months he pursued her, flying around the country to see her. Then he began to push to end his marriage.

Carol and her children were devastated. ‘It was a complete surprise,’ says Nancy Reynolds, a former Reagan aide. ‘They never displayed any difficulties between themselves. I know the Reagans were quite shocked because they loved and respected both Carol and John.’

After marrying Cindy, McCain began to move in a faster crowd in Arizona, including Charles Keating and Mafia Don Joe Bonnano. Jim Hensley knew all these shady characters because he had taken the fall in 1948for Arizona Mafia boss, Kemper Marley when the fed’s busted his liquor monopoly. As a reward Marley gave Hensley a beer distributorship when he got out of prison. But Marley’s involvement would come back to haunt both Hensley and potentially McCain  when in 1976 an enterprising Arizona Republic reporter named Don Bolles began to investigate the ties between the Mafia and local politicians.

On June 2, 1976, Bolles left behind a short note in his office typewriter explaining he would meet with an informant, then go to a luncheon meeting, and be back about 1:30 p.m. He was responsible for covering a routine hearing at the State Capitol, and planned to attend a movie with second wife Rosalie Kasse that night in celebration of their eighth wedding anniversary. The source promised information on a land deal involving top state politicians and possibly the mob. A wait of several minutes in the lobby of the Hotel Clarendon (now known as the Clarendon Hotel) was concluded with a call for Bolles himself to the front desk, where the conversation lasted no more than two minutes. Bolles then exited the hotel, his car in the adjacent parking lot just south of the hotel on Fourth Avenue.

Apparently, Bolles started the car, even moving a few feet, before a remote detonated bomb consisting of six sticks of dynamite taped to the underside of the car beneath the driver’s seat was detonated, the impact shattering his lower body, opening the driver’s door, and leaving him mortally wounded while half outside the vehicle. Both legs and one arm were amputated over a ten day stay in St. Joseph’s Hospital, the eleventh day was the reporter’s last. However, his last words after being found in the parking lot the day of the bombing were: “They finally got me. The Mafia. Emprise. Find John (Harvey Adamson).”

The exact motive for the crime remains a mystery, but many speculate the Mafia holds responsibility, as a large concentration of Bolles’ work involved organized crime, even going as far as to run a story naming over 200 known mafia members operating in the state of Arizona. Some suspected that Kemper Marley, a man who made millions in the liquor distribution business in Arizona, was behind the Bolles murder, but Phoenix police could find no evidence linking him with the crime, and he continued conducting business in Arizona until meeting his own death, cancer-related, on June 25, 1990 in La Jolla, California.

The 1976 assassination of Don Bolles (who may or may not have been investigating the connection between the Hensley’s and Kemper Marley) did nothing to slow down John and Cindy Hensley McCain’s ambition to play with the big boys of Arizona finance and politics. Charles Keating, the most powerful man in Arizona business was one of the first to support McCain’s political career.

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.

McCain’s willingness to try to limit the regulation of S & L’s like Keating’s Lincoln Savings was not enough to save Charlie Keating’s hide, because the bank was involved in the most basic kind of fraud–loaning money to associates based on phony valuations of land and buildings. When the Federal Home Loan Bank moved to close down Keating’s operation, McCain once again came to the rescue. In April of 1987 McCain and four other senators (DeConcini, Glenn, Cranston and Riegle) had two meetings with the Federal regulators and  bank auditors. William Black, then deputy director of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. later talked to the Arizona Republic about the second meeting.

In an interview with The Republic, Black said the meeting was a show of force by Keating, who wanted the senators to pressure the regulators into dropping their case against Lincoln. The thrift was in trouble for violating “direct investment” rules, which prohibited S&Ls from taking large ownership positions in various ventures.

“The Senate is a really small club, like the cliche goes,” Black said. “And you really did have one-twentieth of the Senate in one room, called by one guy, who was the biggest crook in the S&L debacle.”

Black said the senators could have accomplished their goal “if they had simply had us show up and see this incredible room and said, ‘Hi. Charles Keating asked us to meet with you. ‘Bye.'”

The ensuing Keating Five Scandal is called an “asterisk” on his otherwise spotless record by McCain, who managed to get off with a slap on the wrist. All the other four Senators left office within three years. But in actuality, McCain was the one deepest in the pocket of Charlie Keating.

He had adopted the blanket defense that Keating was a constituent and that he had every right to ask his senators for help. In attending the meetings, McCain said, he simply wanted to make sure that Keating was treated like any other constituent.

Keating was no ordinary constituent to McCain.

On Oct. 8, 1989, The Arizona Republic revealed that McCain’s wife and her father had invested $359,100 in a Keating shopping center in April 1986, a year before McCain met with the regulators.

The paper also reported that the McCains, sometimes accompanied by their daughter and baby-sitter, had made at least nine trips at Keating’s expense, sometimes aboard the American Continental jet. Three of the trips were made during vacations to Keating’s opulent Bahamas retreat at Cat Cay.

McCain also did not pay Keating for some of the trips until years after they were taken, after he learned that Keating was in trouble over Lincoln. Total cost: $13,433.

When the story broke, McCain did nothing to help himself.

“You’re a liar,” McCain said when a Republic reporter asked him about the business relationship between his wife and Keating.

“That’s the spouse’s involvement, you idiot,” McCain said later in the same conversation. “You do understand English, don’t you?”

He also belittled reporters when they asked about his wife’s ties to Keating.

“It’s up to you to find that out, kids.”

Everyday John McCain runs an ad called “Washington’s Broken” which begins with the note that “we are worse off than we were four years ago” and then goes on to promise that “only McCain” has taken on the special interests in a corrupt capital. But even conservative Republican’s know this is one more big lie. As Mark Levin, writing in theNational Review Online observed,

McCain was the only Republican implicated in the Keating Five scandal, yet today he lectures his party and his president about “the corrupting influence” of money in politics. He rails against the so-called “wealthy special interests” and their ability to buy access to elected officials, yet this is precisely what the Keating Five scandal was all about. And, of course, under McCain’s current standard, a politician who takes a principled position that may benefit a donor is corrupt, even if no law has been violated. The John McCain of old should be thankful that his political fate wasn’t determined by John McCain the reformer.

McCain’s defenders will say that this is all of this sad history of corruption and marital infidelity is in the past and that he is “born again” as a righteous man. He told Pastor Rick Warren that he is practicing Baptist, even though he has never been baptised in that faith (that’s important to Baptists). But as I pointed out in February, McCain’s willingness to work closely (literally and figuratively) with lobbyists like Vicki Iseman to do the bidding of con men like Bud Paxon, puts a lie to that notion.

It may well be that McCain’s Big Lie strategy is successful in November. He certainly has conned most of the Establishment Media. And certainly the Karl Rove team he has hired are truly world class propaganda ministers. Only time will tell.

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0 Responses to McCain's Big Lie

  1. Patrick says:

    The very idea of John McCain as President is outrageous. He has demonstrated, over and over, that he is temperamentally, ethically, and intellectually unfit for high office of any kind. McCain has a history of “mistakes,” some of which may involve actual criminal activity, stretching back to his days at Annapolis, where rumors apparently still circulate concerning a Naval Academy coverup of some sort of serious incident involving McCain. He was born and raised to excel in the Navy, given the careers of his father and grandfather, but it is apparent that the Navy was concerned about more than just his arrogance and swagger, which in no way disqualify a Navy flier from high office.

  2. Rachel says:

    I don’t know about this, Jon. Not that I like McCain, and I agree his campaign is fraudulent. But I’m not that keen on attacking a man based on what happened in his marriage. God knows the two of them must have had some baggage, from his imprisonment, and her injuries. I’m not going to judge anyone in that situation, because I suspect I’d find either scenario unbearably difficult to deal with myself.

    I’m very happy to engage in arguing against McCain’s *policies* but I’m very unhappy with the tendency in American media to focus so heavily on “character”. Heaven knows we all have our share of personal betrayals and times we’ve behaved badly to those we love. Anyone who has been through a divorce knows that there can be much more to each dissolution than meets the eye. And anyone who’s endured the protracted illness of a loved one can attest to the superhuman effort it can take to remain loving.

    Let he who is without sin cast the stone.

    It McCain’s cluelessness on foreign policy and economics that most worry me, not what he did or didn’t do with his wives. I’m sure none of us will ever know what *really* happened between McCain and his first wife, and nor would I want to. It’s sad, but it’s between the two of them.

    But a continuation of Bushonomics under Gramm will be too much for the planet to bear.

  3. Jon Taplin says:

    Rachel- McCain is basing his whole campaign on Character. His slogan is “Country First”. It’s a lie. If he had chosen to run a campaign based on issues, it would be another matter, but he chose to attack Obama’s character (he’s just a celebrity like Paris and Brittany).

    He can’t have it both ways.

  4. Patrick says:

    Policies are important, of course, but the simple truth is that a President’s policies are one thing during the campaign, and may be something entirely different after inauguration. See, for example, GWB’s campaign policies about “nation-building,” for example. Given the uncertainties of politics, congresses, and world events, we cannot just base our electoral choices on policies. So, character does count. Ultimately, it is all we have on which to base our judgments. We just have to hope that wise policies flow from superior character. Many of us in New Mexico knew all too much about Bush’s character (or lack thereof) before he ever ran for the Whitehouse. (A New Mexican paraphrase of a Mexican saying: “So far from God, so close to Texas.” ) We all see where Bush’s “character” led us.

  5. zak says:

    Pardon my rant, I’ve had a frustrating evening of election season discussion.

    You’re here preaching to the choir. The more important issue is HOW you make about half the population aware of these issues. They’re not getting it on the news. They’re not going to get it in the debates. And how you do it in a way that is informing, rather than stoking the partisan divide.

    I get shredded over at a blogging community I’m a part of because I DARE question the motives of government on domestic and foreign policy issues. . . A number of my peers deny that war profiteering contributes to our foreign policy decisions. We went to Iraq to “liberate” the people from a dictator. The rest of the world “wants” us to be the world’s policeman. To question the actions of the government is horribly unpatriotic; to want to hold every branch of government to the lofty standards set by the Constitution shows that I’m just targeting the GOP.

    While people here have discussed the failings of the US education system, I’m beginning to think it’s been rather successful. We live in a nation of lemmings, who will gladly follow the most popular off the edge of a cliff. In addition to being taught limited critical thinking skills and chipping away at valid math and science education with pseudo-science and religious ideology, we’re incredibly insecure, which contributes to shunning the smart guys (Gore, Kerry, Obama) for the buddy you’d have a beer with. People are placated by the Jerry Springer/Jenny Jones/Riki Lake freak show — I’m better than THAT. And to actively vote for someone who might be more educated or smarter or better, by whatever bar you establish, than you goes against the grain even if it would mean the moving the country towards healing and out of an economic crisis.

    It comes down to high school politics — you don’t vote for the best guy, you vote for the best player — that guy you wish you could be as smooth as in an alternate reality. Rational thought doesn’t typically win out over soothing our insecurities.

    My lone consolation of the evening. . . A friend of mine felt Obama still has the best chance this fall because he’s the most f*ckable. Look at presidential candidates back several decades and the more sexually attractive male wins.

    full stop.

  6. When horrible things happens to men,

    it’s not what happen to him but how he respond to it.

    Warren K.

  7. Lee McKnight says:

    zak, I truly believe that you’ve hit on the crux of the issue with this sentence:

    “we’re incredibly insecure, which contributes to shunning the smart guys (Gore, Kerry, Obama) for the buddy you’d have a beer with.”

    It goes back to so many themes Jon and past comments have touched on regarding society in general and the culture we now live in. High School indeed. It’s infuriating as hell.

  8. ncarnes says:

    So when are you going to do a opinion piece on the associations of Barak Obama and the corruption that surrounds them and Mr. Obama?

    McCain has been forthright on the failure of his marriage, all you are doing is speculating the reasons for its collapse, which being a married man, I can say with certainty no one can ever judge another’s marriage from the outside. McCain said himself he had many personal demons to work through upon his return from being a POW, which I don’t see anyone on this blog that can relate to 5 years of torture in an enemies camp. I do however live in a town with a military base, and based on knowing many, many soldiers, there is one thing that war causes and that is problems in and with marriages upon a soldiers return. My cousin is a perfect example of a broken marriage from where her husband came back a very different person, and he did not face torture as John McCain did.

    You talk about the Keating 5, yet it was ruled that McCain did nothing wrong, he only had poor judgment in meeting with them. So why are you bringing it up? Is it not the same as bringing up Obama’s association with Resco? Oh, they claim he had nothing to do with those scandals, but is it not the same examination, since McCain was said to not have been involved in the Keating corrruption? What about Obama’s Ayer’s association, a convicted terrorist who attacked America? Why would Obama even talk with guy?

    I don’t think there is any perfect candidate. I am sure we can pull character flaws out of a hat for any of them, but in this era of our Country, I’ll take a man who was a POW and had a failed marriage, who does not deny it, over a man with absolutely no experience, who has very questionable friends and ties who we know nothing about, whatsoever. Trust me, John McCain is not my #1 Presidential choice, but over Obama, he is.

  9. Judy Calvin says:

    McCain is a old MCFool….Mail this to Keith Olberman..countdown@msnbc….He will reply..No wonder Bush and McCain want drilling..Bush was a Texas oilman…Picture this Busho and Mc Fool with oilwells in there back yards…He is in bed with the Saudi’s driving up oil prices,now want one of his own…That bunch of CROOKS shoul go to jail….Look what happened to New Orleans after Katrina..People will never know how many people died there…All that got were TOXIC trailers,that are now killing people….

  10. len bullard says:

    I have to side with Rachel. If an analysis of JFK’s character with the full facts had been done, we would have elected Nixon in 1960. I do remember my Mom’s and my Aunts comments at the time (I was six) and it did come down to looks and charm. As I said, jungle fever may get Obama there but is sure isn’t what we need for a competent exec.

    As for McCain, I didn’t see anyone else on the podium I liked better or worse as far as character goes. They are Republicans.

    Sigh. I wanted Hillary. Having met Chelsea and working with former Clinton staff, I know what the woman can achieve and it’s rather classy.

    Why should the women be the only ones voting for lust?

  11. Jon Taplin says:

    Len-I have admired Obama for his willingness to try to stick to the high road even when McCain’s guys are trying to pull him down in the muck. I’ve spent a little time with Barack and his team on telecom policy issues, and I must say he is the most focused politician I’ve ever met.

    By contrast, as I tried to point out above, McCain bases so much of his decision making on what political advantage it would give him, that the notion that he is a man of principle is a joke. He can denounce Bush’s tax cuts for the rich and turn around one year later and embrace them.

  12. Ken Ballweg says:

    Realistically Jon, you know that, regardless of McCain’s real or manufactured character the GOP is going to go back to the well (pun intended) that has worked in so many elections: control the public perception of your opponent no matter how low you have to go. In fact go really low and then deny any association with the attacks. History says character mud sticks, and the GOP has masters for that in ready reserve.

    Someone, I forget who, recently pointed out that Neo-conservatism is not just a political ideology, it’s an industry. The Limbaughs, O’Rileys, Coulters, and Fox are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s major money in mass mailings, ghost writing attack books, call centers… on and on. And to make the big bucks some have had to become v. v. good at it. Mud is their most important product, and, sadly, it does work.

    Reuters was saying McCain ahead by 5% yesterday. Obama could become the black Stevenson, and my McGovern PTSD is coming back. Must go take my meds.

  13. len bullard says:

    Peace, Jon. We won’t get consensus. I’ll have to pass.

    I look at Obama and get the same sense of political opportunism. He worked over Alice Palmer like she was dirt. His record in Chicago and the Illinois Senate is dismal. He’s lied about his past, his friends, and taken credit for bills he didn’t sponsor and committee work where he wasn’t a member. He is a master of misdirection.

    I do agree with the laser focus. Unfortunately, that makes him come off as humorless. My sense is that had he given it four more years and run, it would have been a cakewalk.

    The problem is world events are turning against his campaign’s themes and that is what happened to McGovern. He does seem to be trying to connect better and come off as tougher. The numbers suggest to me the voters are very sceptical of Obama and the media now and are polling their comfort levels, not the issues. OTW, McCain’s right to life issue should have set his campaign signs on fire. It hasn’t.

    I just can’t do the character thing with the McCain’s marriages or Obama’s drug use. I’ve seen too much to be a judge over those issues. On the other hand, one could make a case that for the first time we have two candidates with character flaws they admit to and they are still on the ticket. That’s a bit of a sea change. Remember Eagleton?

    At least if the Repubs take this one, they are stuck with the mess. On the other hand, so are we. No free lunch, indeed.

  14. zak says:

    Does his open misogyny fit better with his character or judgement — there is too much documention of his less than respectable behavior on this front

    Also, did you see the piece by someone who served with McCain?,15202,164859_1,00.html

  15. Jon Taplin says:

    Len-Check out the second part of my McCain post which deals with the “world events” part you are talking about.

  16. len bullard says:

    I had a good response, Jon, but the wireless keyboard went into berserk mode and replaced it with white space.

    Sometimes I hate this technology.

    I’ll take it as a sign and come back to this. Meanwhile, I’ll read your blog article.

  17. JT says:

    First time visitor.

    I think I must be a complete cynic, because I believe the system works like this; special interest group/party/whatever pick individual as candidate. Party/group tell media who they really like; media push (read: sell) candidates of choice until ‘fringe’ candidates leave arena. Remaining candidates then do their best to convince public during primaries that they are the ‘worthy’. Public chooses least offensive…sometimes.

    Jon, I really like your writing and blog.

  18. Alex Bowles says:


    That’s the way it used to work. This time around, we got to watch as the Republican party – coming apart at the seams – finally settled on the one guy everybody disliked the least.

    Meanwhile, the Democrats, fractious as ever, told everyone exactly who they wanted to run, only to have a savvy newcomer – who nobody trusts entirely – come along and steal the show.

    Media types loved the drama, and made their choice on the spot. Old guy with no real friends continued to put foot in mouth, which provides good entertainment. Media wins again.

    Unfortunately for new guy, his existing party is unlikely to embrace the kind of change his popularity suggests people want. Unable to say where, exactly, he plans to go, he’s open to charges from the old guy about not having anywhere to go at all.

    Old guy, by contrast, wants to turn back clock to hazy time that some people remember as good, even if it wasn’t at the time.

    New guy knows this is total crap, and says so whenever he can. However, he isn’t as far ahead in the polls as he should be, given how crap the old guy’s party really is.

    Media, loving the peculiarity, and not having pressed new guy for details that will make his party uncomfortable, plays up the strangely narrow divide. New guy starts to look surprisingly weak. Old guy looks surprisingly strong. Displaced Democrat looks smug.

    Meanwhile, Harry Reid continues to quietly build a 60 vote super-majority. Assuming he pulls it off, it won’t matter who becomes President. In either case, they answer to him and Pelosi.

    Media is paying very little attention at all to this dynamic, even less attention to the special interests that could benefit the most, and no attention to the fact that the least liked, least respected, least effective branch of government is on the verge of becoming the most powerful.

    The result? Pretty much the same one you reached; widespread cynical dismay, with an extra taste of bitter for those who thought the new guy was really going to mean a new day.

    Of course, if Pelosi and Reid come up short, and the new guy wins, the door is open – assuming he actually has an real ideas. And if new guy doesn’t alienate old guy’s natural supporters, he can place P&R in check, which is exactly where they belong.

    So there is hope, but the odds are long.

  19. Margaret says:

    Hi Jon,

    I loved this piece on “Character” and its erroneous connection to John McCain’s campaign. A high horse standing on shaky ground brings about a mighty fall and one would think that McCain and his handlers would realize that. To promote himself as the sole man of Character worthy of leading this country while painting Barack as a Paris/Britney entity who lacks that “Character” is absolutely laughable – for the reasons you enumerated and more.

  20. JT says:

    I actually thought the situation was so ripe for change that anyone in either party coming along would a) realize the public is so fed up with the present situation that just carrying through with one new idea would look miraculous. (I forgot that corporate and other large lobbies still control the process) b) that anyone deciding to run would be so overflowing with new ideas the lobbies wouldn’t have a chance. (I forgot that corporate and other large lobbies still control the process) c) not even the Repubs would run someone as tainted as McCain (but at least he wasn’t a ‘fringe’ candidate like Paul) d) the Dems wouldn’t back someone with as much baggage as H. Clinton, I mean Bill, or someone with such an iffy background like Obama. (but at least they are not ‘fringe’ candidates) … Mr. McCain is behaving exactly the way we would expect and Mr. Obama is suddenly waffling to (I assume) gather more voters from the center, which seems characteristic of someone holding a very poor poker hand.

    You are correct, Alex. My cynicism is running so deep, I may just throw my vote away because I am quite sure it means absolutely nothing.

  21. sauerkraut says:

    I had quite forgotten about Don Bolles and his attempts to investigate mob ties to politicians. I’ve not forgotten, however, that McCain’s schtick makes him appear more like a character than of a person possessed of that attribute.

  22. Ken Ballweg says:

    But, JT, what if, and here I have to pretend the only hole in the glass is at the top, so half full is a potential, what if there really are people who are now trying to vie for the souls of both parties? What if there are people on both the left and the right who realize that it’s not just politics as usual anymore? I will cast my vote of a guy with young kids now, before I would throw it away, because that is a motivator for the future of more than a career.

    Go take a look at both candidate’s web sites, and click on the small, almost hidden word “issues” which is near the top on both. Read them and tell me there isn’t a difference.

    I don’t know if he can pull them off, but again, I will bet on some one with young kids to do a better job of trying to be a good steward for the future than someone so immersed in the inner circle of political cynics that he will tailor his “issues” papers towards voting blocs he has spoken out against.

    Seriously, the kids are a factor in deciding this. Don’t overlook it.


  23. Alex Bowles says:


    There’s an important distinction between influence and control.

    Yes, the organizations you mentioned do have a lot of influence (for example, see the group of NYC business leaders supporting Mayor Mike’s consideration of a third term, which will require a change to the term limit law, due to general dissatisfaction with the current crop of candidates).

    But control implies that you can assure outcomes. There’s no evidence that this is the case – at least not in the moment we’re living in now.

    Also, it’s a mistake to think that every client of K Street firm is part of some larger, hidden, and completely monolithic club where the ‘real’ agenda is set. They’re not (Business Roundtable aside).

    And just because you can identify a single type of influence doesn’t mean that everyone exercising it pushes in the same direction, with the same intensity, and at the same time. There’s a lot more chaos than you may imagine, and with it, a broad – and unpredictable – range of outcomes. (That’s true within influential organizations as well, due to their inclusion of humans – creatures that are notoriously fond of in-fighting).

    In terms of your own influence, it’s realistic to assume that a single vote means very little in a county of 300,000,000. However, attitudes, ideas sentiments and judgments that you express in your daily life do have an effect on others. Combined with the signals they receive from any number of other directions, your signals can play a part in – yes, influencing – larger numbers of votes than yours alone.

    The vote is surprisingly powerful, which is why folks who are subject to it have gone out of their way to gerrymander it into submission. They’ve done pretty well, and in the process have amplified partisan divides to absolutely toxic levels. But they haven’t done well enough, and with the prospect of a committed post-partisan on the horizon, their influence may also be heading for a decline.

    In short, it’s too soon to throw in the towel. Now, if McCain wins, it’s time to move to Canada.

  24. JT says:

    Ken: the safe bet may indeed be on the guy with children because he probably does care about his children and because he cares, he will probably care about environmental milieu in which they develop. But gangsters usually love their children too. Mr. Obama has stated that he does care about such things, but I have heard all of those things many times before. I want to believe you are right, because it sounds like you have children and that you want the best for them. (Just so you know, I did go to the candidate websites and Vote-USA).

    Alex: no, I don’t think every K Street attorney is part of some monolithic influence peddling structure. I do think that special interest lobbies like major media, oil, pharmaceuticals, etc. have created near impenetrable barriers between elected representatives and the general public. Do they influence or control? Why is it that all media has devolved into about seven companies? Why have news organizations within media been subsumed by entertainment departments driven by ratings? Why is it that FDA members are hired away by major pharmaceuticals under circumstances anyone but an attorney would call suspicious? In our supposedly free enterprise system, why do oil companies get regular subsidies (never mind their profit levels) and American companies trying to produce alternatives get hit and miss subsidy? It may not be a conspiracy the way suspense writers like, but it looks awfully monolithic from the outside.

    I think you are right when you say the “vote is surprisingly powerful”. It is the only thing that makes me hesitate.

    On the other hand, I am really glad I have a lot of relatives in Canada.

  25. zak says:

    Ken, JT, et al.

    Watching Michelle talk about her family, and then the interaction between Michelle, the kids, and Obama at the end makes me wistful for a very different childhood.

    I can’t see someone(s) so attached to his kids making choices that would further decimate the environment, and worsen the gap between rich and poor. What’s the old adage about parents always wanting more for their children than they had for themselves?

    McCain can’t offer up that sort of imagery in the minds of the voters.

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