Barack Obama's camp resurrected the Keating Five as a “eye for an eye” campaign issue this week, after the McCain team revived Obama's sometime relationship with Bill Ayers, the former '60s-era radical. But the Obama folks missed what makes the 20-year-old scandal actually relevant, writes Walter Shapiro on Salon. In the crucible of that scandal, in which McCain admitted acting improperly to benefit a supporter, he vowed to commit himself to scrupulously clean politics and complete transparency.
Those vows became the “driving narrative” of McCain’s political career—until this campaign. Now, John McCain “has abandoned all the good-government habits that he adopted after he was chastised by the Ethics Committee,” writes Shapiro. The former “most accessible” major US politician has closed the doors on the media, and “it has become difficult to believe that John McCain recalls the larger lessons about personal honor that he supposedly carried away” from the incident, Shapiro notes.