The Eclectic Quill

September 26, 2008

McCain’s Gambling Problem Poses Leadership Questions

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 11:13 am

John McCain is often described as a "maverick" which is defined in Webster’s at as, "A lone dissenter, as an intellectual, an artist, or a politician, who takes an independent stand apart from his or her associates." There are times such traits might be desirable, depending on what the stand is and who the associates are. There are other times when a "maverick" may be more aptly named a "loose cannon " which is defined as "a person whose reckless behavior endangers the efforts or welfare of others." Some of the actions and behaviors of John McCain during the course of his campaign, particularly this week, demonstrate that he may be more of the latter than the former.

If he had come to Washington with an area of expertise, a clear reason for being there, and set forth those reasons prior to coming he’d be due the credit he wants to now claim. However he had none of those. These would have been the actions of a maverick. These are the things implicit in "takes an in depended stand." McCain took no stand however, he just acted independently and independence alone is not the same as being a maverick. For what is developing into a consensus among all except the most partisan of supporters, in a purely political move, McCain "suspended" his campaign and immediately, after 18 hours of campaigning flew into Washington and immediately wrecked the progress of a bailout that had been in the works. This plan had a remarkable cooperation of both Democrats and Republicans, both the Hose and the Senate, and both the Congress and the White House. Were there some balking? Of course there were. With a piece of legislation like this there had to be. However there was by most accounts there was a deal in place and it didn’t fall apart until John McCain arrived. It looks as though little more than first, make himself appear to be needed and then make himself appear to do what he was needed to do. In general though there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that if McCain had never arrived there’d be little to no difference in whatever comes out as a result of McCain’s visit. This risk he took was an incredibly risky gamble. On the one hand he sought to gain a small amount of political capital, and the risk here was only, potentially, the economic fate of the entire world. Consider the ramifications if Wall Street had been thrown into panic by McCain’s latest craps game. McCain’s actions were those of a loose cannon with a gambling problem.

Lost amid the chaos of the financial gamble are the interviews with Sarah Palin. Most of the comments she’s made and answers she’s given seem more to be like the kinds of things said following the intro, "Hi Rush, long time listener first time caller here…" Her responses show not only of dearth of understanding, but also that of a lack of even the most basic curiosity. Her answers are long on rhetoric and void of substance. When asked about the Bush Doctrine, she seemed unaware of what it is. She defends her argument that Russia neighboring Alaska gives her foreign policy experience by noting that "you can see it" from Alaska. Russia is visible. This is what she brings to the table, the working knowledge that Russia is not an invisible country. When asked to extrapolate she suggests, wrongly that somehow the governor of Alaska negotiates trades with Russia and is responsible for defending American airspace from Russia. Both of these are blatantly wrong arguments and readily apparent from even a cursory reading of the constitution. No governor has those kinds of responsibilities. Why there hasn’t been more made of Palin essentially just making up stuff to answer questions. I suppose she didn’t want to have to say, "I’ll have to get back to you on that" again. What’s even worse than not knowing what McCain has done is not even knowing what her own job is. Palin is another demonstration of how big of a gamble McCain is willing to take to score a political point. Can you imagine if something were to happen to McCain while in office? Could you imagine someone inheriting the nation’s present crisis unaware of what their own job responsibilities are and responding to questions with "I’ll have to get back to you on that." There were other women he could have chosen and there were others who would have secured the Republican base, so why Palin? Why the need for such a reach? Could it be that he wanted to reach for the sake of reaching? Is it possible that Palin was nothing more than an adrenaline rush?

McCain’s gambling problems are well reported. In his Time article Michael Scherer says , "Over time he gave up the drinking bouts, but he never quite kicked the periodic yen for dice. In the past decade, he has played on Mississippi riverboats, on Indian land, in Caribbean craps pits and along the length of the Las Vegas Strip. Back in 2005 he joined a group of journalists at a magazine-industry conference in Puerto Rico, offering betting strategy on request. "Enjoying craps opens up a window on a central thread constant in John’s life," says John Weaver, McCain’s former chief strategist, who followed him to many a casino. "Taking a chance, playing against the odds." Aides say McCain tends to play for a few thousand dollars at a time and avoids taking markers, or loans, from the casinos, which he has helped regulate in Congress. "He never, ever plays on the house," says Mark Salter, a McCain adviser. The goal, say several people familiar with his habit, is never financial. He loves the thrill of winning and the camaraderie at the table."

Gambling is an addiction, and it seems that McCain is an addict. He’s willing to play with the world’s economy and America’s future. He "loves the thrill" and it seems he’s found a higher stakes craps table. He’s unconcerned with what he wins, he’s more obsessed with the adrenaline rush that comes from laying everything on the line. Any gambler knows that the best way to lose is to keep playing. The problem with the addict is that even if he knows that, he can’t quit, he can’t put down the dice. He will keep rolling until he’s lost it all. We don’t need an addict that’s willing to gamble with the nation and the world as a President. Ironically, Obama has shown himself to actually be a maverick in this crisis in telling Reid and Pelosi to set aside the bankruptcy issues as well as his own spending initiatives. He "took a stand apart from his associates" and in the course, actually did exercise leadership in these negotiations. What the nation needs is a true maverick, not a loose cannon.



  1. Just a few of the reasons that he troubles me so much

    Comment by MadMan — September 26, 2008 @ 2:16 pm | Reply

  2. McSames gambling issues showed to me when he tabbed a retarded M.I.L.F. as a running mate.

    look at this video of her :

    Comment by 3rdStoneFromTheSun — September 26, 2008 @ 2:29 pm | Reply

  3. What numbers support Obama winning? Is that a fact? If so, please site something that supports that bold statement as fact. CNN even goes as far as to say that their sample included more democratic viewers in their poll. So, please instead of bloviating and ranting about facts, open up with a fact, instead of an opinion. Facts? You are furthering your agenda and as a man of the cloth, I find it reprehensible.

    Bottom line for me, this simple fact that you probably will not address: in the midst of this greed and lack of regulation (aren’t those Obama’s words?) we find that he and Sen. Dodd were the #2 and #1 recipients of donations from a corrupt group. Outstanding stuff and someone I should vote for? Hardly.

    Comment by poolboy55 — September 29, 2008 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

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