Talking Points Memo has both the video and the quote of Jonathan Alter critiquing John McCain’s reaction to the Keating Five scandal. I’d like to amplify his comments slightly, if I could. First, the quote:
[Y]ou remember the Keating Five scandal that he was a part of, which, by the way, it’s crazy but there’s been very little about it in the press in the last few weeks. And McCain thinks he’s getting a hard time, he’s really getting a free ride on the fact that he was in the middle of the last great financial scandal in our country. But his reaction to that, you would have thought, would have been more regulation of the financial services industry. Instead he moved forward on campaign finance reform after being caught in that scandal, but did nothing – nothing – to try to prevent another savings and loan crisis from happening down the road. He was missing in action when it came to even learning the basic lessons of a scandal that he said taught him all kinds of things that he would never forget.
To put this another way, John McCain’s signature reform initiative was entirely narcissistic and self-flagellating. The largest scandal in our nation’s financial history since the Great Depression, now dwarfed by our current crisis, meant nothing to his sense of reform. He made no attempts whatsoever to reform the financial system that was at the root of the problem – indeed, he spent the rest of his time in Washington actively working against regulations that might have prevented our current crisis. Rather, the important take-away from his experience with Keating and lobbyists was that getting involved with lobbyists might get you into trouble.