John McCain has a gambling problem, according to Norm Scheiber. That’s Scheiber’s interpretation of an article by Michael Scherer and Michael Weisskopf in Time:
In the past decade, [McCain] has played on Mississippi riverboats, on Indian land, in Caribbean craps pits and along the length of the Las Vegas Strip. … “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.”
Aides say McCain tends to play for a few thousand dollars at a time and avoids taking markers, or loans, from the casinos, which he has helped regulate in Congress. “He never, ever plays on the house,” says Mark Salter, a McCain adviser. The goal, say several people familiar with his habit, is never financial. He loves the thrill of winning and the camaraderie at the table.
Only recently have McCain’s aides urged him to pull back from the pastime. In the heat of the G.O.P. primary fight last spring, he announced on a visit to the Vegas Strip that he was going to the casino floor. When his aides stopped him, fearing a public relations disaster, McCain suggested that they ask the casino to take a craps table to a private room, a high-roller privilege McCain had indulged in before. His aides, with alarm bells ringing, refused again, according to two accounts of the discussion.
“He clearly knows that this is on the borderline of what is acceptable for him to be doing,” says a Republican who has watched McCain play. “And he just sort of revels in it.”
McCain can afford to lose thousands of dollars on a roll of the dice. His wife, Cindy, is a very wealthy woman: heiress to the Budweiser fortune, the chair of Hensley & Co. (one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the USA), she reported $6 million in income for 2006.
Now put McCain’s gambling habits together with his credit card debts:
The presidential candidate and his wife Cindy reported piling up debt on a charge card between $10,000 and $15,000. His wife’s solo charge card has between $100,000 and $250,000 in debt to American Express.
McCain’s wife also has a second American Express charge card listed on the senator’s financial disclosure that was carrying $100,000 to $250,000 in debt.
Another charge card with American Express, this one for a “dependent child,” is carrying debt in the range of $15,000 and $50,000.
So the McCain family has a total credit card debt of at least $225,000.
On the other hand, “Democratic candidate, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), reported no liabilities in his annual financial disclosures.” Likewise, with respect to gambling, Obama’s style is to wager only $1 on a hand of poker.
The information about McCain ought to worry Americans: particularly American conservatives.
The Bush Administration has already added an enormous amount to the US debt. Now McCain has proposed more than $650 billion per year in tax cuts, which is equivalent to a third of domestic spending.
McCain claims that he’s still going to balance the budget. Simultaneously, he is preparing the ground to blame Congress for any deficits that occur during a McCain administration. His tax cuts wouldn’t be to blame — nuh-uh!
Given his personal habits (gambling and credit card debt), the massive tax cuts he proposes (which will primarily benefit wealthy people like Cindy McCain’s business associates), and his willingness to pour billions of dollars into perpetual military adventures in the Middle East —
Americans will be taking a huge gamble themselves, if they elect this guy President.