Rich Is A State Of Mind, Dude

by digby

Following up on dday's post below --- and the meme that is sweeping the blgoopshere this morning --- McCain's inability to remember how many houses he owns isn't the only telling thing he said.

From the Politico:

McCain’s comments came four days after he initially told Pastor Rick Warren during a faith forum on Sunday his threshold for considering someone rich is $5 million — a careless comment he quickly corrected.

In the interview, McCain did not offer an alternate number, but had a new answer ready.

“I define rich in other ways besides income,” he said. “Some people are wealthy and rich in their lives and their children and their ability to educate them. Others are poor if they’re billionaires.”

This must be why they need their taxes lowered.

McCain has actually a long history of not knowing about financial matters in his own family:

John and Cindy were married on May 17, 1980 at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. They made a prenuptial agreement that kept most of her family's assets under her name; they have since kept their finances apart and file separate income tax returns.

Her father's business and political contacts helped gain her husband a foothold into Arizona politics; she campaigned with her husband door-to-door during his successful first bid for U.S. Congress in 1982,with her wealth from an expired trust from her parents providing significant loans to the campaign and helping it survive a period of early debt.

She moved back to Arizona in early 1984, and gave birth to her child, Meghan, later that year. She subsequently had John Sidney IV (known as "Jack") (born 1986) and James (known as "Jimmy") (born 1988). Her parents lived across the street and helped her raise the children while her husband was frequently in Washington; she typically only saw him on weekends.

In April 1986, she and her father invested $359,100 in a shopping center project with Phoenix banker Charles Keating. This, combined with her role as a bookkeeper who later had difficulty finding receipts for family trips on Keating's jet, caused complications for her husband during the Keating Five scandal, when he was being examined for his role regarding oversight of Keating's bank.

See, he's a "poor" billionaire himself.

(You can see McCain's 1989 press conference on the Keating Five scandal and the shopping center matter, here.)

I seem to recall a lot of horrible stuff being said about the henpecked John Kerry and his marriage to the wealthy heiress Teresa. But John and Teresa married deep into their middle age, long after both of them had already established their careers and identities. McCain's entire political career has been tied to his marriage to a woman nearly 20 years his junior and her daddy's vast wealth. I would think most Americans would find this aristocratic lifestyle as a consort to a liquor heiress just as "exotic" as Obama's childhood is alleged to have been. In fact, Barack and Michelle Obama have led lives that are far more like the average American's than John McCain.

Perhaps that's another thing people just don't know. I recall that in 1992, that's why they did that "Man from Hope" movie for the convention --- they'd found out that because Clinton had gone to ivy league schools, a lot of people assumed he came from wealth. When they reintroduced him as a self made man, people changed their minds about him.

I suspect that the opposite could be true about McCain. People know he was a POW, but they don't know that he left his first wife for a much younger, wealthy woman whose daddy financed his political career. His only excuse (and probably a lie, at that) for not knowing how many houses he owns is that he doesn't know anything about the family finances --- his wife holds the purse strings.

It's worth noting that McCain got very, very angry when he was questioned back in the 1980s about his wife and father in law's business partnership with Charlie Keating:

McCain, in his autobiography, said he regrets staying at the meeting. He wrote that he should have left when one of the regulators said the meeting was "very unusual" and that he "really shouldn't have come back" after learning that the regulators were sending the matter to the Justice Department.

Months later, questions emerged about why McCain did not reimburse Keating for all the Bahamas vacations. McCain said he thought that his wife, Cindy, had written checks for a number of trips, but documentation could not be found for any except the 1986 trip. McCain agreed to pay $13,433.

In addition, the Arizona Republic reported that Cindy McCain and her father had invested $359,100 in a shopping mall for which Keating was the principal backer. When reporters questioned the investment, John McCain wrote in his autobiography, he "shouted at them, cursed them, and eventually slammed the phone down on them. It was ridiculously immature behavior."

I don't get the impression that his behavior is any more mature today, despite the fact that he is over 70. His wife's financial dealings seem to be a sore spot. I think it's a good idea to poke at it.