Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

John McCain’s gambling: Should we know more about presidents and their addictions?

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Originally published on on Tue, 07/15/2008 – 9:15am

We know George W. Bush is an alcoholic. We know Bill Clinton liked McDonald’s a lot. And we have been learning that John McCain is a serious, high-stakes gambler. But do we need to know the addictions of our presidential candidates – and our presidents?

In Chicago, Michael Jordan was virtually worshiped for what he did on the basketball court. But when we learned that he was gambling lots and lots of money, there was consternation over the incidents. Is it a problem to gamble lots of money if you have lots of money or only if you don’t have the money?

John McCain, through his wife, has lots of money in which to gamble, so we aren’t concerned that he is betting one of his 11 houses. But Michael Jordan isn’t running for president, and John McCain is.

The articles that have mentioned McCain’s gambling also point out that Obama likes to play poker. And they make it absolutely clear that Obama likes to do it for fun and McCain is very intense about his experiences.

Even though McCain can cover his losses, the style in which he gambles and the necessity of needing to gamble speaks to what might be his leadership style in office: big risk-taker. By contrast, Obama isn’t a big risk taker.

Not to draw an exact parallel, but Bush’s addictions or perhaps even “recovery”* from those addictions has spoken a library full of his leadership style. A wild alcoholic with alleged issues with at least cocaine, even a “recovered” one, needs to channel that energy somewhere else. Unfortunately, for the troops in Iraq, he found an outlet.

* recovery in the sense that you don’t stop being an alcoholic, even if you stop drinking.

In each presidential race, we want to learn more about the presidential candidates. And our criteria seem to change based on the newest occupant. And based on Bush, perhaps we should pay much more attention to the persona of the White House occupant.

A wild, obsessive gambler, such as McCain, is an appealing prospect to certain Americans. And Obama’s relative aversion to risk-taking also appeals to many Americans. But those Americans who truly are trying to decide between Obama and McCain should have some idea of who these people are, even their addictions.


Written by democracysoup

July 15, 2008 at 9:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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