Friday, May 16, 2008

Does This Mean It’s Open Season On Cindy McCain?

The Tennessee Republican Party is attacking Michelle Obama? Really? Yes, it’s true:
(CNN) -- In a preview of the political onslaught Michelle Obama may face in the fall, the Tennessee Republican Party unveiled a Web video Thursday highlighting her comment that she was proud of America "for the first time in my adult life."

The four-minute video coincides with a visit to the state by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's wife for a Democratic Party event Thursday evening.

That’s really classy, and so typical of GOP tactics. Taking a trivial comment, blowing it out of proportion, and making sure the press eats it up (which, as evidenced by my CNN link here, they have).

This is so cool because I’m guessing this means it’s open season on candidates’ spouses, and Cindy McCain provides us with all sorts of rich material. There is of course her abject refusal to release her tax returns, even though the conservative pundits went after Teresa Heinz Kerry for the same thing in 2004 (yesterday, Joe Conason reminded us that The Weekly Standard called Teresa a "sugar mommy." Since Cindy McCain is the breadwinner in that family, I’m sure they’ll waste no time throwing similar insults her way in 18-point type. No? Imagine that.)

There’s the private jet she allows her husband to use for campaign travel, a distinct financial advantage over the other candidates. And please note: when a Republican owns a private jet--even one who just gave a speech on climate change--it’s not elitist! Or hypocritical!

But the best dirt on Mrs. McCain is the stuff the press has largely ignored. In fact, it seems Mrs. McCain may have a checkered past with the law. She’s admitted to past drug addiction, but it seems there’s a little more to the story than that. In 1994 The Phoenix New Times covered the story in Opiate For the Mrs. It’s a long, fascinating read. And it shows us what a lapdog press we’ve always had, long before the current crop of stenographers started panting at the feet of the Bush Administration.

Do read the whole thing--while it lasts. It may get yanked off the 'nets as the campaign heats up.

Here’s the short version: In the early ‘90s, Cindy McCain was addicted to prescription painkillers. She stole narcotics from the medical charity she led and used the names of the charity’s employees to get prescriptions--sometimes in quantities as large as 400 or 500 pills. When one of the organization’s directors grew suspicious that prescriptions were being written in his name, she had him fired. When he tried to sue for wrongful termination, the McCains intimidated him with false claims of extortion.

Cindy McCain never served a day in jail (or even rehab, it appears). There are even serious questions about her claims of having been given a pretrial diversion. In fact, the whole thing was just made to go away, thanks to husband John McCain’s good friend John Dowd, the same attorney who helped him escape serious repercussions for his role in the Keating Five scandal. Dowd got Cindy McCain out of hot water and a quickie PR campaign touting a feel-good story about sin and redemption put a nice happy spin on the whole affair. Sweet!

So, let’s get this straight. Michelle Obama made a remark at a speech that quite obviously wasn’t supposed to be taken literally. Still it causes massive pearl-clutching among the flag-wavers and pin-wearers on the right who demand empty displays of patriotism to reaffirm their belief we are the greatest nation evah.

Cindy McCain is a drug addict who supported her habit with narcotics theft. Our nation’s prisons are full of men and women who have done less. Yet because she is rich and powerful she gets off scott-free.

And no one in the media will mention this because the Republicans will say candidates’ spouses are off limits.