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Sam Smith: America's Most Mobbed Up Election

America's Most Mobbed Up Election

By Editor Sam Smith

IF THE POLLS don't shift, we are facing an extraordinary election between two presidential candidates who have unprecedented past connections with a seamy underworld.

This is not to say that we haven't had individual candidates with mob or similar ties before. Harry Truman rose in the corrupt politics of Kansas City; Lyndon Johnson was a skilled election rigger, and John F Kennedy, it is likely, won office thanks to the Mafia friends of his father.

But in each of these cases, there was some reasonable expectation that the candidate would put away churlish things once in office. And, for the most part, they did, save some not insignificant falls from grace such as JFK using the mob to further his disastrous Cuban policy or LBJ aiding the heroin trade to further his disastrous SE Asian policy.

But every administration since Kennedy - with the notable exception of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford - has been substantially sullied by mob-like activities. As I wrote in the Great American Political Repair Manual ten years ago:

"There is a world of difference between simple human error and premeditated malevolence. One of the most remarkable things about American politics over the past thirty years is how often the latter has intruded on the normal workings of our democracy. Many of these incidents have been poorly reported or only briefly covered and then forgotten. The cumulative story has been almost totally ignored.

"We need not finally determine who killed JFK and for what reasons to recognize a more generic fact: our politics has been repeatedly interrupted and distorted by assassins, mobs, rogue intelligence agents and agencies, freelance conspirators, drug runners, massive corruption, illegal financial manipulation and off-the-shelf government operations. .

"These incidents are both a cause and a reflection of the deterioration of American democracy. Transforming our politics calls for neither paranoia nor fatalism on this score, but it does require inoculating the body politic against such occurrences."

What we are facing now, however, is worse. With no little help from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, mob politics is no longer merely an intrusion on our public affairs, it has become a standard of normalcy. As I have noted before, we all live in a Mafia neighborhood now.

Which is why the two must corrupt candidates are leading the race for the White House.

If this sounds like an exaggeration, consider this: both Rudi Giuliani and Hillary Clinton strongly recommended that the recently indicted Bernie Kerick be placed in charge of protecting the basic safety of all Americans as head of Homeland Security.

This is the sort of stuff you used to see only in cheap gangster movies. But now it is so normal that the media mentions it only in passing if at all.

Or consider this: what other Democratic or Republican candidates come even close to Clinton or Giuliani in their lack of integrity and corrupt past. Where is Edwards' or McCain's Bernie Kerick?

What other candidate in either party had a father and an uncle in the mob (like Giuliani) or is married to a man (as Hillary Clinton is) whose uncle-mentor was, according to FBI and local police sources, tied to the New Orleans mob and whose mother hung out with Mafia types at the Hot Springs racetrack, or (like both Clintons) were close pals or partners of a number of eventually criminals like the Jim McDougal, Dan Lasater, Webster Hubbell and Peter Paul.

What other candidates other than Clinton had among their friends a convicted drug distributor like Lasater who supplied cocaine to their brother-in-law?

What other candidates other than Clinton had a friend like Rich who was are on the FBI's most wanted list for 20 years until their spouse pardoned him?

There are several reasons to ignore such a past:

- It happened a long time ago and things have really changed.
- One isn't responsible for ones' relatives and the candidate clearly reflects different values.
- One has done enough good to make these matters fade.
- There isn't anyone better running.

None of these reasons apply to either Giuliani or Clinton. There isn't a single ground - save personal opinion - that distinguishes these candidates as more moral, wise or imaginative than their competitors. Neither is there any hint that either has matured in such values.

There is, however, one important difference between the two and their competitors. If one is running a hedge fund, large corporation or - for some other less attractive reason - seeking a candidate you can fund in return for some deals, Giuliani or Clinton are clearly your choices.

In short, they are the ones who would be most easily manipulated by those up to no good.

That's what mob politics is all about. The contributions don't go to the best candidates but the ones who are most easily bought. This is why rejecting public campaign financing is so costly: we pay far more in public funds without it. It just happens after the election rather than before - and the big campaign contributors get a profit out of it to boot.

Sadly, the media - for reasons both of convenience and cowardice - falls for this racket and puts a polite sheen on what is simply a national version of what we used to associate with the worst urban machines. Reporters and commentators run from any suggestion that what is going on isn't a civic textbook prescribed event. This is a lie and a cruel hoax played on the American public. And a major reason why this looks like it could be our most mobbed up election.



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