Friday, September 19, 2008

Keating Five Scandal Is Obama's Hammer


Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown believes this past week will be viewed as the turning point in the election.

The economy is crumbling in a frightening manner and Sen. John McCain can't seem to smell the burning embers that is the U.S. financial system.

Brown is correct. The economy is staggering, just as McCain's veneer of financial responsibility and reform is melting, yet Sen. Barack Obama has the knockout blow in his possession and must utilize it, now.

That vicious uppercut to McCain's glass jaw is the Keating Five savings and loan scandal of the 1980s.

Joseph Romm wrote at the Huffington Post that scandal offers Obama a "messaging twofer". Romm lays it out this way:

First, the Keating Five scandal provides a point of origin and touchstone for the dishonest and dishonorable way McCain is running his campaign, which has finally become a central point of attack for the Obama campaign. Second, the Savings & Loan scandal also goes to the heart of McCain's anti-regulation, surround yourself with Washington lobbyists, pass-the-buck-to-a-commission approach to our current economic and financial crisis, another point of attack for the Obama campaign.

Some political pundits believe this well-known scandal from McCain's early legislative years could have a backlash by allowing him to highlight Obama's link to Tony Rezko, who was convicted this summer of several counts of fraud and bribery.

The Rezko story never gained legs because as Romm writes a recurring narrative of such behavior has never stuck to Obama.

The Keating Five scandal that broke in 1989 includes some senatorial heavyweight in John Glenn and Alan Cranston. Dennis DeConcini, Donald Riegle and McCain were ultimately given slaps on the risk for steering regulators off the scent of Charles Keating.

Keating's Lincoln Savings & Loan was just a highlight of an overall destruction of the S&L's in the U.S. Over 747 such institutions failed costing taxpayers over $124 billion.

The Federal Reserve spent nearly that just to check A.I.G. afloat this week in comparison.

Obama must bring this narrative to the forefront of his campaign speeches. It is quite possible the campaign is poised to unleash such an offensive during the first presidential debate Sept. 26. Such timing may give Obama the most reach rather than relying solely on expensive ads and 20-second sound bites.

If for some reason, the Obama campaign finds it beneath them to forge such an attack. Five-twenty-sevens like and Democracy For America need to use their extensive budgets to buy advertising, send letters and email members regarding the clear link between the McCain's policy of financial deregulation during the S&L scandals and today's economic meltdown.

A campaign does not possess many instances where the the boxing taunt, "one punch will drop ya" is available. Obama has it, now lay the lick on McCain.

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