Monday, October 06, 2008

McCain: "a lifelong gambler"?

John McCain
Life's a crapshoot?
(Image from Stephen Crowley, The New York Times)

Yesterday, I characterized John McCain as a gambler, giving as evidence the three Hail Mary passes of his that Charles Krauthammer identified in a recent Washington Post column. But I had other reasons for calling him that, for I had read an article by Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr., "McCain wagers on gaming industry," pubished in the International Herald Tribune on September 28, 2008, nearly one week ago, so the issue was already on my mind:
Senator John McCain was on a roll. In a room reserved for high-stakes gamblers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, he tossed $100 chips around a hot craps table. When the marathon session ended around 2:30 a.m., the Arizona senator and his entourage emerged with thousands of dollars in winnings.
Is this a problem? It used to be one for the evangelicals that the Republican Party has depended upon, but Sarah Palin has shored up that base for him, at least among older evangelicals. His gambling interests had hurt him back in 2000:
A lifelong gambler, McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party's evangelical base, opponents of gambling.
But the evangelicals now seem to have accepted this aspect of McCain's character, so it doesn't appear to be an issue that will hurt him with those voters this time. Does his love for gambling pose unacceptable risks for his decision-making? Not so long as he's winning like he was at the Foxwoods Resort Casino that night:
McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who represents that casino, according to three associates of McCain.

The visit had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequot, a tribe that has contributed heavily to McCain's campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world's second-largest casino.

Joining them was Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just McCain's affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.
I can't help but wonder, given the lobbying connections, if losing at the tables were even a possibility that night, but I make no accusations. McCain was winning, and so long as a man is winning, we don't ask too many questions.

Personally, I dislike gambling, and I tend to agree with George Will and William Safire, among others, that gambling teaches people the wrong lesson on how to go about obtaining wealth, but let that argument be. The bigger issue right now, since McCain is a gambler, is this: Can John McCain walk away from the table at the right moment? Winning or losing, a gambler needs to know when to stop. Does McCain know? We've seen that Krauthammer would probably think not.

A lot of people don't know when the moment to stop has come, as we've perhaps seen in the excessive risks that a lot of distinguished executives in the financial sector have taken over the past several years. The resulting financial crisis has made them look like inveterate gamblers.

Whether or not McCain knows when walk away, even to be known as a risk-taker during this time of financial uncertainty might work to his disadvantage on November 4, when people are likely to pull the lever for the candidate who seems less likely to gamble with their future.

But we'll just have to wait and see what happens about one month from now.

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At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may vote for McCain, but I'm not making any bets on who will will the presidential election.
My wife has the gift of predicting future events, even determining them, but only as regards my actions.
Perhaps we could ask Sun Ae.

At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

or even who will win....

At 7:52 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I'm trying to remain undecided as long as possible because I think that I can analyze better if I'm not partisan.

I'm afraid to ask my wife about the elections since she, like your wife, has the gift not merely of predicting but even of determining the future.

At least, she can always pre-determine precisely whether or not I'll be drinking that second beer . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:08 AM, Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

Here's something to contemplate
Do Facts Matter?

Before you Get Drunk and Vote 4 McCain

I think I'll vote after some nice Oktoberfest beer.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, CIV. I wish that Oktoberfestbier were easy to find here in the ROK, but I'll find something to serve as substitute.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In support of CIV:

As for choosing between an extreme leftist and a gambler -- I'll take my chances.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Michael. I'll take a look at that.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:56 PM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

EXCELLENT points, indeed. Thank you for sharing them. I've written on Palin's comment about Obama palling around with terrorists today, and I think you'll be very interested.

At 3:34 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Saur, and good to hear from you again. I'll take a look at your blog entry.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:23 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

Let's see...a choice between having our future flushed down the toilet with Obamessiah...or a chance that it won't be.

As much as I hate to say it, McCain seems like the best bet!

I still am not certain I'll mark my "x" in his box, though.

At 3:27 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio, I've heard that politics is the art of the possible, so we all have to act a bit like careful gamblers and reckon the best odds for our vote to do some good.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:00 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

After last night's debate, Jeffery, I am certain of one thing.

America has fallen...and can't get up.

At 2:17 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio, I haven't seen that debate yet (nor the first one). I'll have to check You Tube.

Jeffery Hodges

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