George Graham

McCain, Palin Are Unsavory Characters in Their Own Right

When Sarah Palin and John McCain attempt to smear Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama by citing his “association” with characters like rehabilitated terrorist Bill Ayers, racist pastor Jeremiah Wright and convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko, the media should respond by noting the Republican candidates’ questionable associations – and, more important, their own tainted personal histories.

McCain’s life story is littered with unsavory friends, and Palin’s past includes close ties to a political extremist who cursed America and advocated the secession of Alaska. Her pastor believes in witches and performed a ceremony to protect her campaign against “all kinds of witchcraft.”

And, while Obama has given up smoking and indulges only in a weekly poker game, McCain has many vices, which get scant play on television. His explosive temper is legendary, and his taste for the high life is well known. But did you know he is a compulsive gambler?  Here is an excerpt – and accompanying photo – from an article that I found in Time Magazine:

gamblingOver time he (McCain) gave up the drinking bouts, but he never quite kicked the periodic yen for dice. In the past decade, he has played on Mississippi riverboats, on Indian land, in Caribbean craps pits and along the length of the Las Vegas Strip. Back in 2005 he joined a group of journalists at a magazine-industry conference in Puerto Rico, offering betting strategy on request. “Enjoying craps opens up a window on a central thread constant in John’s life,” says John Weaver, McCain’s former chief strategist, who followed him to many a casino. “Taking a chance, playing against the odds.”

Palin’s behavior is also highly questionable. An investigation by an Alaksan legislative committee – with 10 Republican members and only four Democrats – concludes that Palin abused her power and acted unethically in the Troopergate scandal. I am sure you must have heard the story. Basically, she got rid of the state’s public saftey commissioner at least partly because he would not fire a trooper who divorced her sister. There’s a lot more along the same lines from her time as governor of Alaska and mayor of Wasilla. She has a well-documented history of vindictive and spiteful actions toward those who oppose her and of preferential treatment to her cronies.

A look at Palin’s family circle is equally troubling. It’s not just the pregnancy of her teen-age daughter, which calls into question her views on sex education (she opposes it). There’s also the boy involved. From what I’ve read, this guy sports a “thug life” tattoo, calls himself a “f—in’ redneck,” warns that if anyone messes with him, he will ‘kick their f—in’ ass,” and  says he likes to pass the time by “shootin’ sh–.”

palinCloser to home, Palin’s “first dude” is a former member of a party that violently opposes the United States. In 1995, Todd Palin joined the Alaska Independence Party, a radical group that advocates Alaskan secession, and remained a registered member of AIP until 2002. (Todd and Sarah Palin are pictured at an AIP rally at right.)

According to a story published by Salon. com, party founder Joe Vogler’s rallying cry was: “I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.” He declared that “my government is my worst enemy. I’m going to fight them with any means at hand.” The story says that before his murder in 1993, Vogler preached armed insurrection against the United States of America. Here are a excerpts from the story:

Vogler, who always carried a Magnum with him, was fond of saying, “When the [federal] bureaucrats come after me, I suggest they wear red coats. They make better targets. In the federal government are the biggest liars in the United States, and I hate them with a passion. They think they own [Alaska]. There comes a time when people will choose to die with honor rather than live with dishonor. That time may be coming here. Our goal is ultimate independence by peaceful means under a minimal government fully responsive to the people. I hope we don’t have to take human life, but if they go on tramping on our property rights, look out, we’re ready to die.”

Vogler vowed that if any federal official tried to stop him from polluting Alaska’s rivers with his earth-moving equipment, he would “run over him with a Cat and turn mosquitoes loose on him while he dies.”

Sarah Palin is a sympathizer and regular speaker at the Alaska Independence Party’s conferences, including one held this year. “Keep up the good work,” Palin told AIP members recently. “And God bless you.”

It is ironic that characters like McCain and Palin should be flag bearers for America’s religious zealots and self-proclaimed “patriots.” But, as someone said, politics makes strange bedfellows.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for