The McCain/Palin campaign might want to think twice before heading down that dangerous path toward guilt by association, as the candidates at the top of the Republican ticket have plenty of guilty associations of their own, some of which might even be fresh news to even the most attentive voters.
For example I had no idea about John McCain’s shady associations with the Iran Contra scandal until reading about it this morning in Politico, where former Tacoma News Tribune reporter Ken Vogel (one of the few ex-reporters around here to move up in the biz instead of moving out) sheds new light on McCain’s association with John Singlaub and the US Council for World Freedom.
Since the mid-1980s, there’s been almost no attention paid to John McCain’s long-ago association with a controversial group implicated in a secretive plot to supply arms to Nicaraguan militia groups during the Iran-Contra affair.
But now, with the Republican presidential candidate stepping up his negative blitz against Democratic opponent Barack Obama, some Democrats are hoping that the group – the U.S. Council for World Freedom, and its founder, John Singlaub – will become for McCain what Bill Ayers has become for Obama: a fleeting past association used as ammunition for political broadsides.
[…] “This guilt by association path is going to be trouble ultimately for the McCain campaign,” Democratic strategist Paul Begala said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “John McCain sat on the board of a very right-wing organization, it was the U.S. Council for World Freedom, it was chaired by a guy named John Singlaub, who wound up involved in the Iran contra scandal. It was an ultra conservative, right-wing group.”
McCain later claimed that he “disassociated himself” from the group after learning of its secret program to arm the Contras, circumventing a Congressional ban on aiding the rebels, but he never informed authorities of these illegal activities. And he never seemed too bothered by the group’s known anti-Semitic leanings.
Singlaub founded the council in Phoenix in November, 1981, as the U.S. branch of the World Anti-Communist League, which he also helped run for a time. The league billed itself as a supporter of “pro-Democratic resistance movements fighting communist totalitarianism.” But the Anti-Defamation League in 1981 alleged that the anti-Communist league also had had “increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact, for extremists, racists and anti-Semites.”
An aide to McCain told Politico that “McCain has a long and consistent and strong record on issues involving Israel and he would never be associated with anything that was anti-Semitic in any way,” but, as Sarah Palin’s church has proven, being pro-Israel and pro-Jew are not the same thing.
After being sparked by a brief comment Sunday from Democratic strategist Paul Begala on NBC’s Meet the Press, the Singlaub story is quickly gaining some media traction on a path McCain may soon regret choosing.