If there’s one thing voters truly despise it’s hypocrisy and empty rhetoric. Disturbingly high numbers of the electorate often fall for the lies and the liars who try to pass off their tall tales as truth. And upon realizing they have been repeatedly duped and played for fools, they either drop out of the political process altogether or opt in with a fury borne of anger and frustration.
In the latter case they tend to gravitate towards candidates with whom they not only agree but in whom they can place their trust. It is a heady mixture of charisma and the promise of change that Obama brings to the political scene – – something ineffable that ordinary Americans feel in their gut. Sadly, Senator Clinton, while she has criticized Obama for being more words than substance, has been guilty of so many words people have stopped listening and her “Day One” mantra has begun to fall flat.
But agree or disagree with their positions on the economy, the war, ethics and health care, the Democratic presidential hopefuls offer specific agendas without suggesting partisan exclusivity. In fact they promise to work both sides of the aisle and refuse to engage in the kind of rabid right-wing rants that suggest there is no way for the parties to coalesce around the issues of the day. And while one might hope the purveyors of radio vitriol would be considered way over the top, they manage to impact the Republican Party and the entire electoral process in an unhealthy and destructive way.
What is truly amazing, however, is that the party of so-called “values voters” and fiscal conservatives consorts with lobbyists and war profiteers and that its presumptive presidential nominee claims that a continuation of past failures represents a hopeful future. What on earth makes sense about an agenda that promises more war, tax cuts as the solution to all our economic woes and a re-run of a delusional governing amalgam? And can Senator McCain still pull off his straight-talk, maverick image as details about his supporters and campaign managers emerge? Is his brand of hypocrisy more convincing because of his war-hero status; will it be allowed to stand uncontested?
For starters, Rick Davis, his campaign manager, is a well-known lobbyist who represented companies, like “Fruit of the Loom”, that shifted work off-shore creating massive job losses in this country and who worked for McCain while lobbying interests of his were to come before the Senator’s Commerce Committee for review and action. Another of McCain’s entourage is former congressman, Tom Loeffler, who was associated with scandals regarding questionable contributions he received from Vernon Savings and Loan, one of the companies that received a taxpayer bailout during the country’s many S & L crises. (Ken Silverstein, “Washington Babylon” Harpers Magazine, May 2007) Loeffler, typically enough, parlayed his legislative credentials into a lucrative lobbying career, e.g. with big pharma, helping to push earmarks for his clients through Congress. He is now fund-raising maven for the McCain campaign.
Other big-donor friends have joined the McCain cause, and despite his many protestations to the contrary he is glad to have this collection of lobbyists and fat-cat corporate types on his side. As quoted by Silverstein in Harpers he has said “Over the years I have become close friends with each of these distinguished men. I am honored to have their support as we move forward. Their dedication to the Republican Party and their renowned financial savvy are essential to any successful campaign and I am so grateful they have chosen to bring their talents and wisdom to our team.” Notably, McCain cites their dedication to the party not the American people; the straight-talk express has definitely been derailed, unless maybe that is the real straight talk.
In general there is nothing innocent about political connections to corporate lobbyists. While many Washington lobbying factions represent ordinary Americans, the biggest and strongest entities promote the special interests of clients who distort the political process and control the lives and financial well being of an entire nation. Charles Keating of the notorious Lincoln Savings and Loan probably said it best – -“One question, among the many raised in recent weeks…has to do with whether my financial support in any way influenced several political figures to take up my cause, I want to say in the most forceful way I can: I certainly hope so.”(The Greatest Ever Bank Robbery, Martin Mayer, P.221)