Your Letters: Guilt by association easy to find for McCain, Palin

I guess it's right to say that desperate times demand desperate measures, and by all fair indicators the McCain-Palin ticket may be in very desperate times. Such desperation apparently has motivated John McCain to entirely abandon a promise early...

I guess it's right to say that desperate times demand desperate measures, and by all fair indicators the McCain-Palin ticket may be in very desperate times. Such desperation apparently has motivated John McCain to entirely abandon a promise early in this race "to run a decent, honorable campaign." Sadly, there's nothing at all "decent and honorable" about smears, despicable charges of guilt by association, and attempts at character assassination. Barack Obama wants to talk to us about matters which actually impact our daily lives: unemployment, skyrocketing health care, prescription costs twice what they are in other countries, conversion to alternative fuels, health insurance, costs that soon may exclude much of the middle class from college, the war in Iraq, wages, and education; but since McCain has very little of consequence to say about these matters other than continuing an atrocious $300 billion a year tax cut for the fat cats and giving another $4 billion to the insatiable oil companies, it's no wonder McCain's campaign openly admits, "It's time to change the subject." To what? Smears, guilt by association, and character assassination.

Let's start with the specious charge Palin and McCain himself are spreading on the campaign trail: that Obama has associated with a Bill Ayers, a former member in the 60s of the terrorist organization called the Weathermen, who were accused of bombings in the U.S. First, Obama was 8 years old and growing up in Indonesia when this organization Barack calls "deplorable" was active. But no, Palin-McCain attest that the mere fact that Barack associated with Ayers on a board in Chicago and was invited to his home on two occasions and lived in the same neighborhood as Ayers, makes Obama guilty by his association with Ayers and unfit for high office. The truth is the association between Obama and Ayers was entirely free of anything wrong whatsoever.

At that time a Republican billionaire and former Nixon ambassador to Britain named Walter H. Annenberg, a fine philanthropist, started a charitable fund to bring experts and other people interested in improving education in America together to form boards to study the issue and then recommend action. Obama's home city of Chicago won a $50 million award to fund such a board. Yes Ayers, now a professor at Illinois University and recognized as a nation-wide expert on education, and Obama, and several reputable Republicans, bankers, and lawyers served on that board. Now by the ridiculous guilt by association standard of Palin-McCain does that make everyone on that board guilty of consorting with a terrorist? Obama and Ayers were not that close. This comment by Obama clarifies that point: "Bill's [Ayers] mad at me because I told a reporter he's a toothless ex-radical." Guilt by association is a vile practice of people who have run out of useful points to make. Yet, for the sake argument let's apply the same standard to Palin and McCain themselves.

By her own standard of guilt by association, Ms. Palin was "palling around" with a member of a terrorist and treasonous organization from 1995 to 2002. Her husband, Todd Palin, was an active member of the Alaska Independence Party then, a group whose founder, Joe Volger, ardently advocated secession from the United States. Suggesting and attempting to follow such an agenda would be an act of treason. A quote from Volger is very revealing: "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've no use for America or her damned institutions. Alaska should be an independent state. The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government." Of course, it was the American Government and Secretary Seward that bought Alaska from Russia in the first place. Now, by Palin's own standard and what she's impugned Barack Obama with, namely guilt by association, she is not fit for the office of VP.

Now what about John McCain's past associations? Is he innocent of the baseless charges he makes against a so-called "dangerous" Barack Obama? No, he isn't. In the 80s, there was an illegal deregulation scam called the S&L Scandal, which cost the American tax payers $2.8 billion. An inept businessman named Charles Keating conceived of and led the highly secret plans to cheat lenders from the Lincoln Savings and Loan, his business, to keep it from going under. He recruited a group of powerful allies who also were firm believers in deregulation called the "Keating 5." Among the members who met and plotted at many clandestine meetings were Neil Bush, our president's brother, and a senator from Arizona named John McCain. Perhaps McCain's association with a crook such as Keating had something to do with Keating's contributing $112,000 to John's congressional campaign. The FBI got wind of the group's activities and indicted all of them. Charles Keating was convicted on several charges of fraud and given a stiff prison sentence. McCain was brought before Congress to clear his name. It helped him there that Keating had said, "He [McCain] wimped" out on the illegal stuff, so McCain was cleared. but wait a minute. By the Palin-McCain standard of guilt by association, it does not matter that McCain was cleared of the crime. It's enough that he associated with such a criminal to recommend that he be considered "unfit for high office."


This is not the 50s and the age of Joe McCarthy, who ruined the lives of thousands of Americans by this same vile process of guilt by association. I would just love to bring back a heroic and genuine reporter such as Edward R. Murrow, who ended the madman McCarthy's reign of fear over Americans by standing up to him. He would relish exposing the truly abominable and dishonest tactics of a man who once claimed to his workers that "this must be an honorable and dignified campaign." John McCain has tragically fallen from and failed to follow his formerly high standards for political contests.

Greg Van Hee


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