Monday, October 6, 2008

Keating Five Time

So I had a blissful weekend away from politics in Maine. We hiked (more on that later), I watched a lot of Food Network(we don't have TV in our Cambridge apartment, and cooking shows are the only thing I miss), and though I saw some clips from the VP debate and watched the coverage of the "financial rescue" plan's passage... I've been largely out of the loop.

In the last three days my inbox has been flooded with Obama/Biden e-mails... not unusual, and mostly uninteresting pleas for money... only the one announcing an impending assault on McCain's role in the Keating Five stood out. The e-mail announces an upcoming 13 minute documentary(available 12 EST), as well as a website. It states the following:
During the savings and loan crisis of the late '80s and early '90s, McCain's political favors and aggressive support for deregulation put him at the center of the fall of Lincoln Savings and Loan, one of the largest in the country. More than 23,000 investors lost their savings. Overall, the savings and loan crisis required the federal government to bail out the savings of hundreds of thousands of families and ultimately cost American taxpayers $124 billion.

Sound familiar?

In that crisis, John McCain and his political patron, Charles Keating, played central roles that ultimately landed Keating in jail for fraud and McCain in front of the Senate Ethics Committee. The McCain campaign has tried to avoid talking about the scandal, but with so many parallels to the current crisis, McCain's Keating history is relevant and voters deserve to know the facts -- and see for themselves the pattern of poor judgment by John McCain.

And here is the preview:

Pretty interesting. If you would have asked me this summer how much role the Keating Five would play in this election, I probably would have said "none"... it was a long time ago, he was contrite, his role was relatively minor, and the media has given him a pass... so any attempt use it would have been angrily brushed aside by his "base". However, that was before he pissed off or disappointed everyone reporter and pundit in the country. It was also before he decided to turn to full blown character assassination as his only hope for November. Most importantly, it was before the $700 billion dollar rescue of the financial sector... which shares more than a few similarities to the S&L bailout that was at the heart of the Keating Five scandal.

How effective will it be? Hard to say... but it seems to me that it's a lot more relevant to Americans today than sitting on the same board as Bill Ayers. We'll see.

UPDATE: Jason Zengerle at TNR makes a fair point about how this might not have been the best time to play the Keating card. As someone who has generally argued against attacks from Obama, even when other Dems were jumping off bridges because of his perceived passivity, I have to concede that being the Adult vs. Petulant Children has been one of his greatest strengths this whole campaign. Indeed, it may have been better to continue to play the high minded statesman than to strike back with the Keating deal... I can see how it might have made more sense to wait until after the debate, and after the McCain=Sleaze meme had fully taken hold. Interesting.

UPDATE II: The only thing I wonder about timing was whether this was designed to get inside McCain's head before the debate/town hall... I mean, this has got to REALLY piss him off.