The New York Times has run an exposé over the last two days of John McCain's gambling ties . He has been involved in the intricate and ruthless business of casino gambling in America for decades both as a behind-the-scenes wheeler dealer and as a player.
(Big H/T to George)
As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America’s casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country. He has won praise as a champion of economic development and self-governance on reservations.
Once the Native American Gambling Business grew to this extent, largely due to McCain's efforts, the Senator's patrons in Las Vegas began to be concerned.
In the spring of 2005, Mr. McCain announced he was planning a sweeping overhaul of Indian gambling laws, including limiting off-reservation casinos. His campaign said Las Vegas had nothing to do with it. In a 2005 interview with The Oregonian, Mr. McCain said that if Congress did not act, “soon every Indian tribe is going to have a casino in downtown, metropolitan areas.”
Carl Artman, who served as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary of Indian Affairs until May, said Mr. McCain pushed him to rewrite the off-reservation rules. “It became one of my top priorities because Senator McCain made it clear it was one of his top priorities,” he said.
The new guidelines were issued on Jan. 4. As a result, the casino applications of 11 tribes were rejected.
Besides being involved behind the scenes, John McCain himself is a high-stakes player. From Arizona, he was known to make weekend jaunts up to Vegas, about once a month, where he was wined and dined like any High Roller with influence in Washington.
Perhaps one of the unspoken implications of the NY Times piece is that the kind of person who gambles by playing Native American interests against those of Las Vegas, the kind of person who personally likes to throw the dice in high stakes crap shoots in casinos, would bring that "maverick" attitude into the White House, should he be elected president.
What do you think? Is taking weekend trips to Vegas to let your hair down incompatible with the Office of President? Is there something disonorable in representing Native American interests then changing teams and going to bat for Vegas? Do you think taking Sarah Palin on as a running mate was an example of reckless gambling? Is gambling a vice?
Please leave us your thoughts in a comment.