Tuesday, August 26, 2008

He Who Lives in Glass Mansions

He Who Lives in Glass Mansions
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
August 26, 2008

So the McCains own seven homes. Notice I said the “McCains,” not John McCain. Notice I said “homes,” not houses. It is revoltingly both un-American and un-capitalistic to berate, condemn or criticize someone for achieving the American dream.

The McCains are a true success story. John McCain is merely a beneficiary of Cindy McCain’s family wealth. Her family rode the wave of success of a beer distributorship – this comes from hard work. That’s the American way. Her family money, the Henley family money, is in Cindy’s name, not John’s

John’s success story didn’t start out that way. After an admittedly less than stellar academic tenure at the U.S. Naval Academy, John embarked upon a career in service to this great nation. His story is well documented as a P.O.W. for five years in Vietnam’s inaptly named Hanoi Hilton. McCain returned home to an ungrateful nation having barely survived the ordeal. Settling in Arizona, McCain took a run at Congress, in 1982, garnering the seat in what was then Arizona’s first district. After two terms, McCain sought the Senate seat of the vaunted Mr. Conservative, Barry M. Goldwater in 1986.

With Cindy, the McCain family grew both naturally and via adoption. The family fortune brought fortune to many disadvantaged people as Cindy traveled conducting humanitarian relief efforts. And, yes, the fortunes of people in the real estate community grew as well. Several of the McCain homes are condos lived in by their children, and two, one in Arlington, VA and one in Arizona are the official residences of the senator himself – the same right afforded the other 534 members of both houses of Congress.

Wealth achieved and earned legally and legitimately should not be disparaged. The McCains need not be embarrassed by their alleged largess. Sure, the Senator could have answered that fated question better, but then again, most of those homes are in Cindy’s name and under her purview.

On the other hand, senators who live in glass mansions in Chicago while their half-brother lives in squalor in Kenya, should not throw stones. This goes beyond the John Edwards’ notion of two Americas. This is two worlds. One world has Senator Barack Obama in his mansion with less than kosher financing via friend and criminal Tony Rezko. The other world has the Obama’s half-brother attempting to live on pennies a day – about one dollar a month in Kenya. Conservative radio and television host Sean Hannity offered, on air, to send Obama’s half-brother $1,000 if the family would provide an address. This was not to mock the senator’s half-brother, but instead to embarrass Obama who seems to offer change, of some yet defined manner to this nation, while his half-brother has nothing but change in his pockets.

This is not a nation that criticizes wealth and success via hard work. We celebrate it. Millions are trying to move here – hopefully legally – in quest of their piece of the pie. If unable to achieve their piece from an existing pie, they will happily bake their own – and should be applauded for the effort – just like the McCain family.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

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