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Barack Obama unveils 13-minute Keating Five 'documentary'

Barack Obama's campaign unveiled its latest attack ad this morning -- a 13-minute "documentary" on John McCain's ties to Charles Keating, the chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Assn. who was charged with fraud, racketeering and conspiracy in the savings-and-loan scandal of the late 1980s.

The ad was rolled out with the same kind of promotional fanfare that you'd expect for the latest indie flick.

Over the weekend, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe introduced a 30-second preview of the film ("Keating Economics: John McCain and the Making of a Financial Crisis") in an e-mail to the campaign's extensive list of supporters. Plouffe urged recipients to forward the e-mail "to everyone you know" and to stay tuned for the premiere of the full spot.

It debuted at noon EDT (9 a.m. PDT) today on a website specifically created for it.

Production-wise, the spot shows what a campaign awash with money can accomplish these days; it's heads and shoulders above the average political ad (as well as being far more ambitious in length).

Clearly, it was in the works for a while -- and comes now as McCain's campaign over the weekend launched a new effort, assaulting Obama for his ties to Bill Ayers, a founder of the notorious Weather Underground radical group almost 40 years ago.

-- Kate Linthicum

Comments () | Archives (45)

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Very good pitch, I think another "John McCain still has not learnt any lessons" should be drawn on the cost of the needless Iraq War. Where we are spending $600B and thus starving facility development in Nigeria.

Why have journalists been so afraid to touch the Keating Five issue? Why does it seem like they push off blame for bringing it up as only in the context of this politcal tit for tat. It seems completely pertinent to the economic state we're in and goes to the heard of the republican's argument about judgement. I hope to see more informative journalism about this subject.

All evil man came to power at the times of tremendous instability and financial chaos. I suspect this time around it will not be any different. Everybody who want to talk about Obama"s rhetoric and not who he is as a man, does not understand the danger he present to our way of life. Sad, very sad

Looks like Sen. Obama is rubber while Gramps is glue. All the slime they throw bounces off him and sticks to you (McShame). Playing the guilt by association card when you have The Keating Five scandal in your past is just plain dumb. What next they will accuse Mrs. Obama of stealing drugs like Cindy did after she stole another womans husband? Instead of McCain/Palin they really are more like Dumb and Dumber.

Can you smell that change of cynical politics to a new age where attacks and guilt by association will give way to hope? Obama, you are truly a massive hypocrite.

Ok it's time to fight fire with fire. Obama you have to take the gloves off and get down and dirty like Palin and McCain. Playing the good guy will not work. Let's start with McCain and the Keating five followed by his affinity for gambling, Lets add Palin and her witchdoctor pastor in Alaska followed by her association with her husband's wish to have Alaska cede from the USA. As they say in my hometown of Chicago "Politics ain't bean bag". Its on!!!!!!

Obama's release of this ad underscores the fact that he is a quintessential old-style Chicago pol who stuck a knife into the back of the woman - Alice Palmer - who enabled his entry into public life as a state senator. Why does he not disown ex-Senator John Glenn - an adviser to his campaign - a pol who unlike McCain was actually a beneficiary of Keating's largesse and actively intervened on behalf of the S&L?


I am dismayed at McCain's character assassination attempts in lieu of a conversation on the issues. All of this negativism reflects on the office of the Presidency
and the men that hope to fill it.

I can't blame the Obama campaign for trotting out the negative images as a response to those initiated by McCain but, it's a sad day for our country when the two men that are the potential President grovel and wrestle in the dirt to gain what is supposed to be our highest office.

What has happened to our country ? Is it now "Mad Max at the Thunderdome" ?????????

The documentary may be partisan, but even removing the issues of McCain's culpability it points to some very fair questions about the ethos of deregulation which he espouses. Today the financial markets were in freefall. The Russian stock exchange lost almost 20% of its value, as did the Bank of Scotland. Iceland had to shut its market for fear that the country's financial system would collapse. This is the biggest economic crisis in our lifetimes...

...and the McCain campaign would rather question Obama's loyalty.

Turn the page, John.

So much for "change."

One wonders why a special website was established for this video and why it isn't accessible directly via Obama's website.

As I recall, a Democratic congress cleared McCain in this matter.

Accordingly, I'd be far more interested in a 13 minute "documentary" pertaining to Obama's relationship with convicted felon Tony Rezko.

In the end, it's all rather Kennedy-esque in its own special way; perception IS everything.

Who among us can forget Kennedy's "ich bin ein Berliner"speech?

Unfortunately, we tend to forget it was Kennedy who allowed the Berlin wall to be built in the first place.

How convenient.

I think of Obama the same way.


It's about time! I'm old enough to remember the Lincoln scandle, and have been wondering why nobody mentions it. Now let's see questions about Palin's education and McCain's divorce, and Palin's religion.

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Just back it all up with facts as shown in this video.

geez la times, why don't you just come out and endorse mcain overtly and stop being so passive-aggressive.

Nice, sound bits from unproved accusations that were later debunked. The lead prosecuter noted recently it was an injustice to wrongly acuse him (McCain) of involvement. Notice they (Obama) try to use word trickery to make Savings and Loan sound an awful lot like Fannie Mae. Keating violated the law and was jailed for it. McCain to be uninvolved. This whole video is an attempt to retry the case and make McCain cupable. The ideas they put forth in this video are opinions not facts. The facts about Obama's rerlationships with anti-american colleagues like Ayers, Wright and Rezko are true and not masked in political inuendo. What did Obama do with the $128,000 he got from Fannie Mae?

I think it is just as important to shed light on Joel's Army, the Masters Commission, the Latter Rain and Third Wave Movements and how they relate to the selection of Sarah Palin to lead the cause for the Dominionists...NOBODY is running with this story.

Watched the video. Chilling. Now, on to PHIL GRAMM and BIG OIL ... and then on to Sarah's ties to Senator Stevens. Way to fire back, Obama.

How is it that our politicians on either side are allowed to stay in office when they engage in criminal acts.

It seems to be widespread in our world today and we just can't get rid of them.

I don't get it.

Even a pedophile like the Senator for Idaho who admited he was guilty. He got reelected!!

Sure sign that we are in our time of decline to a second rate nation.

Our finance markets, if nothing else, are a sure sign of that fact. The American day is over.

McCain-palin tactics against Obama-Biden

Bipartisanship and ? Maverick McCain.
Dear concerned citizens of America and Mass Media of the U.S.A.
As a concerned registered independent voter, forensic psychiatrist, disabled American I made my decision to vote after taking into consideration following joint tickets attributes and characteristics.

1. Has the ticket shown adequate calmness, coolness, and connectedness's under pressure to lead our nation [Presidential Temperament]?
2. Has the ticket shown sustained sound "Judgment and Caliber"?
3. Has the ticket shown adequate understanding of depth and degree to address the crucial challenges in their their purpose, policies, and positions [ Honesty, integrity and sincerity]?
4. Has the ticket sufficient "understanding and knowledge" of inside Washington workings [Experience]"?
5. Has the ticket reservoir resilience, wisdom, and vigor to address the present and future f our beloved "Great-grand Nation"?
6. Has the ticket enough joint foreign policy experience and exposure based on " Values, Virtues, Vastness, and " [American moral soul]"?
7. Has their campaign talk, slogans, ads, plans, and programs based on facts and are they free of fear, fiction, frivolous labels, unfair attacks, negativity, and impulsively? [No "imminent danger to national
security and safety"].
8. Has the ticket genuinely kept on message of country first and politics last and avoided copying [Message change"]?
9.Has the ticket message stayed away from Culture divide and war[ Disaster prevention ]?
10. Has the ticket resisted being surrounded, supported and surrogate's by divisiveness, distortion's, and destructive characters, [ Real patriotism VS shiftiness and shameless parrot-ism]?
11. Has the ticket thoughtful, real non-partisan, & non-impulsive plans to address our current economic crisis or political tactics and temperamental statements.
I have personally and professionally concluded that OBAMA-BIDEN ticket will lift and inspire our greatgrand nation back to its greatness within and restore our global standing with the use of maximum, firm
international diplomacy and minimal force if and when indicated {" Peace thru Strenght "}.
12. The era of responsibility has to replace irresponsibility and unaccountability will change to accountability and transparency. The Wall Street greed will change to Main Street need.
13. Temperamental and Angry McCain is out to play and create a card mistrust and distress around Obama with the Vail of claim that he will bring bipartisanship in Washington DC. He is destroying him claim every by painting Obama naive. It is tragic, sad, and unfortunate that so called Maverick McCain has already generated a disdain and demeaning face off in the debates and bailout suggestion. Obama is real Presidential and he maintained a smile during the debate and while McCain had a constant grin and disdain towards Obama.
Yours sincerely,
COL. A.M.Khajawall [Ret] MD.
Forensic psychiatrist, Disabled American Veteran and Iraq
Freedom team. Grass roots California leader per Senator McCain's

PS: It is sad and unfortunate that Hon, Temperamental and angry Maverick McCain has changed into bitter rather than better man.

This is chilling ... McCain has not learned his lessons. We can't have him as our President.

And Palin is a hack who is so far out of her league it's sad and ridiculous -- and yet more testament to the fact that McCain is erratic, reckless and all about "me first."

The deal is sealed: Obama.

Let's move forward now.

John McCain is outflanked by THE FACTS. 1st Sara Palin trys to tie Barack Obama with the "Weather Underground" WHEN BARACK OBAMA WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD!
Now the Obama campaign FINALLY goes on the attack with a piece of ACTUAL government corruption HISTORY, in an unprecedented (13) minute political ADD.
A scandal "Starring" John McCain, as a BRIBE TAKING CORRUPT CONGRESSMAN in his FIFTIES!
Co-Starring "Banker Charles Keating" who BUYS John McCain, for a price, played against the backdrop of the "Victimized American taxplayer....that is, until they all GOT CAUGHT!
You REALLY can't call this an attack ADD, it's a historical documentary, with FACTS that are, shall we say "inconvenient" to the presidential aspirations of John McCain.
****(4-Stars) Highly recommended!

The negative campaigning was initiated by McCain. He would probably have done better not to go there, but desperate men are driven to desperate acts. I don't see it as the honorable way. It merely distracts from the real issues before us. It is hard to believe that negative campaigning will succeed to sway many voters. Embrace the politics of hope.

Keating was bad enough. What about McCain's outrageous ties to G Gordon Liddy? McCain and Liddy are friends and have "palled around" recently.

So McCain will now start slinging the mud to turn the focus back on Obama's race, "otherness", and dangerous naivety.

Funny sketch parodying the awful Obama rumors:


I think that this is a legitimate documentary that is timely given what's happening in the economy right now. It also makes the Palin claim that Obama's "palling around with terrorists" due to a casual relationship with Ayers sound awfully shrill and insubstational by comparison. John McCain got at least $100k + from Keating, not to mention getting flown around his private jet and vacationing with him.

i think it is hard for the McCain to refute this; it's clearly been well researched and the most disturbing comments are all facts that either McCain makes himself, or can be found in other media.

John McCain didn't cause the economy meltdown, but he clearly profited from it and championed the atmosphere that caused it to happen.

Pretty damning, I think.

We are about to make the Mother-of-All-Mistakes. If the conservative movement does not rally behind the only alternative left to us, this country will become a true Socialist State within the next two Presidential terms.

Most people don't reflect upon the fact that the Democrats ruled Washington for over 40 years; it wasn't until 1994 when the so-called Gingrich Revolution changed - but only for a while. These same people do not realize that it was the Democrats who created the failed policies of the entitlement programs that are now falling apart before our eyes.

Do not think I find the Republicans blameless in all this. They, too, suffer from the ego and greed built into our system. But in the past few months I have listened with growing horror to the railings of the left, calling for yet more giveaways, more promises of a proverbial free lunch. What sums up my feelings - why I am appalled by those in political power - is contained within a quote by basketball legend and talk show host Charles Barkley: "Poor people have been voting for Democrats for the last fifty years...and they are still poor."

Now, with our elections, come yet more new promises of change we can believe in, for the future. But if you really - I mean REALLY - listen to what the new messiah is asking for, it is not change of policy or change for the better. This is a warning that he wants our change. And the change you will get will not be the change you expected or wanted. I leave you my predictions of what will happen if the junior Senator from Illinois becomes President, especially if the House and Senate are veto-proof Democrat.

1). Strict gun laws, though he promised he would not.

2). "In God We Trust" will be removed from all currency.

3). He will renege on his pledge to Israel and leave them to the wolves of Islam.

4). Hillary Clinton will be named to the Supreme Court.

5). Tax rates will surge to the highest levels in 30 years.

6. Capital gains tax will be at least double current levels.

7). Retired Army General Wesley Clark will be named Secretary of Defense.

8). Our borders will be open to all comers, especially from the Middle East and South America.

9). Amnesty will be granted to all illegals in the U.S, regardless of status or even gang membership (think MS-13).

10). Our presence in Iraq will come to an abrupt end with tragic results to their citizens and devastating consequences to our military.

My predictions will not sit well with some people. The best we could hope for is that I am wrong. Any bets?

The Savings and Loan crash and government takeover wiped out my family's inheritance. We had all figured that stock in a Bank or a Savings and Loan backed by the FDIC was as secure an investment as you could get. Boy were we wrong. The government took everything and if my parents had lived to be 100 maybe the tax credits would have been used. This is another story that teaches NEVER TRUST THE GOVERNMENT

Talk about reaching...

Everyone in politics brushes with shadowy characters, the difference between Obama and McCain, is that Obama wasn't even in up to his ankles, while McCain was in over his head as he is now.

Now that's what you call a judgment issue.

I would also like to add Ayers has few prominent republicans he can list as friends.

Not everyone in America has just fallen off the turnip truck.

McCain was exonerated, and in fact, the DEMOCRAT who prosecuted the case said he was unfairly included and was NOT involved. Whereas, Obama, who keeps whining about being "swiftboated" (which was true about Kerry but never mind) has no trouble with an ad like this. Obama sees nothing wrong with domestic terrorism I guess. Talk about a character issue.

I watch the election with much interest and dare I say it amusement from afar and not being a usa voter i get more than my share of laughs
gee its gonna be great if you elect Palin the six pack drinking shooter
Can you imagine it as she meets world leaders ├┐our gonna have to bring a six pack with you next time i am fed up you drinking all my beer"
we thought Ragen was good and then there was Bush and now you give us a real star in Palin
Might loose some money over the next 4 years but gee its gonna get a few laughs from all over the world
she has got to be the best comic writter ever

On the one hand, I'm disappointed in Obama for going so negative in digging up old dirt that I thought most people were aware of. On the other hand, it appears that Palin's only job right now is to go to GOP stronghold states and fire off attacks regarding people Obama has known in his career (Ayers and Wright). Which I also thought was old dirt that most folks were aware of. So I guess it's an eye-for-an-eye? Disappointing, but par for the course I suppose.

They forgot the part where McCain was cleared of charges. The best thing is that McCain as a new Senator has learned from an error 20 plus year ago. Unfortunately, since Obama has only been in the Senate for two years, most of it spent running for president. He hasn't had the chance to correct his errors and have a track record of reform. Maybe in 10 or 12 years Obama will have the experience, knowledge and proven ability to work across party lines to be the president.

If McCain wants to bring up this "guilt by association" between Obama and Ayers only b/c Ayers hosted a political event in 1995 welcoming Obama into politics, then this is fair game. Also, I think the Obama campaign should make mention of Todd Palin (Sarah's husband) and his involvement in the Alaskan seccesionist party. Do the Palin's really love America like Palin questions Obama?

Obama/Biden '08

We should all mobilize - armed with portable DVD players, to show all of America the Keating-5 documentary. I am convinced that McCain does not even understand that his thinking is flawed.

is it true? Is it possible? I am not sure I can believe all this. Yesterday the LA Times reported that McCain was not the great pilot I thought he was. And today I learned that he was involved in almost-corrupt practices... I am very dissiapointed on Sen. McCain. I still like the guy, but I have serious doubts about his inteligence and judgment.

i love it. keep it coming OBAMA!!!!

Wow, Obama knew a dangerous radical when he was 8 years old! I'm impressed. McCain, on the other hand, has only been corrupt since the eighties.

This bulletin just in: If you don't support Barrack Obama you are a racist! If you vote for him you are a progressive! Please don't mention Obama's association with Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright or Alcorn because that's racist to! Please get the memo!

Go Sarah go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am VERY disturbed by those who keep repeating here that John McCain was "cleared".
Just repeating lies is NOT going to be a defense, when John McCain is 100% GUILTY!

It is unfair to say that Obama's documentary is a character-attack in the same vain as McCain's negative campaigning. For one thing, the Keating Five Scandal is a well-documented part of the public record. McCain was reprimanded for his conduct before Congress, and later apologized (1999) indicating his culpability in the matter. Not only that but the scandal is extremely relevant to the current economic crisis. The principles that led to the Savings and Loan debacle and the principles that led to the credit crisis are one in the same -- DEREGULATION.

McCain's attacks on the other hand are far more personal, and completely irrelevant. Obama was not complicit in Ayer's deeds or Rev. Wright's speeches in the same way that McCain was complicit in the Savings and Loans debacle. McCain was directly involved with Charles Keating and contributed personally to the savings and loans crisis.

Armando said "Why have journalists been so afraid to touch the Keating Five issue?"

That is a very intriguing question, and the real answer is complex. To truly understand the answer, we must first understand that for about three decades there has been a growing belief that American capitalism has matured and entered a "new stage".

In the "olde days" unions were needed to protect workers and strong government was needed to protect consumers, the general public, and the well-being of the nation itself from rapacious robber-barrons, cutthroat business practices and a caveat emptor marketplace. Foods were often contaminated or toxic. Drugs and medicines were rarely more than worthless snake oil. Products and services were completely misrepresented by their advertising. Bigger business destroyed startups and small family businesses through predatory pricing and other tools of the monopolist. Manufacturers dumped untreated toxic wastes into the nation's rivers, lakes and harbors, and polluted the air over our cities.

Fast forward to the 1970's: Labor unions and government regulations have driven up the standard of living. Decades of strong government action have cleaned up the countryside, put safe foods in the supermarkets, protected the consumer from shoddy products that are likely to harm them, and forced the monstrously huge corporations to play a little more fairly with their smaller competitors. The monstrous and vicious beast of capitalism that we Americans had used to develop our nation's economy was increasingly chained and shackled as it grew soas to contain its appetites and cruelty.

In this more gentle environment, an argument is made: Capitalism has seen the error of its ways; big business has turned over a new leaf; the robber-barrons of yore have been forever vanquished; corporations of the present only want to do good deeds; a whole new chapter in economics has opened and the lessons of the past no longer apply.

With the horrors visited upon the nation by unbridled greed and power fading from memory, this argument seemed reasonable. Philosophical tripe, such as Ayn Rand's religion deifying the titans of industry, or Francis Fukuyama's "End of History", found fertile grounds to grow, even in the minds of clear headed and educated people. Corporations had somehow grown pure and divine souls that elevated them over mortals (consumers, workers, voters, citizens). The beast was no longer seen as a beast, and could be trusted to play nicely with children without its chains. Freed of their shackles, corporations, those tragically misunderstood angelic beings, would soar like Harrison Bergeron and carry us unworthies along with them to utopia. In fact, the peoples' own democratic institutions; their own government; began to be seen as the cold and heartless bullies oppressing the beatific beings that were big businesses and multinational corporations.

There was a paradigm shift. From university economics classrooms to network news desks, capitalism's reputation was rehabilitated. The demise of Stalinism; Japan's bubble economy; the Internet bubble; soaring stock market indices; everything seemed to confirm the impression that capitalism had morphed into something new, noble and beautiful.

Deregulation became the mantra of the new paradigm. The peoples' own democratic institutions; the government; became the enemy to be hobbled and destroyed rather than improved and big business the innocent victim to be liberated. Those shouting shrill warnings about the dangers of freeing the monster from its bindings were treated to, varyingly, derision, contempt and pity: They were seen as fossil relics of a bygone era, clinging to discredited socialist or communist ideals. No one of any repute disputed the basic premises of deregulation.

Along comes the S&L disaster. This was the first major, national-scope incident to suggest that the grand experiment with handing control of the nation over to big business was a grave mistake. To be certain, people were shocked and confused, but those were heady days and few seemed willing to give up on the capitalist dream so long as it could be saved with a massive infusion of corporate welfare at the public's expense. Massive government intervention salvaged the efforts of those trying to eliminate government intervention.

The drumbeat for deregulation continued: Trucking, pharmaceuticals, utilities, finance, telecommunications... Public oversight continued to be removed from all sectors of the economy, but for some, the S&L calamity remained an ominous spectre in their memories. Sure, improbable and fantastic justifications were erected that claimed that the Savings and Loan fiasco was the result of their not being deregulated enough, but these rhetorical constructs were build of smoke and mirrors and contained little of substance to satisfy an inquisitive mind. As such, the S&L collapse was a subject that modern, right-thinking people preferred NOT to think about, as such thinking lead directly to an intrinsic flaw in the very core of contemporary economic paradigms.

In any event, digging into the Keating Five issues require revisiting the S&L failure. Returning to the S&L disaster reopens the fetid and festering wound, buried for decades, where capitalism had chewed the very heart out of the justification for its own liberation from regulation. As these issues have broad implications concerning the balance of power between the public and businesses; as well as the basic role of the public's democratic organizations in safeguarding the nation's economic well-being, the Keating Five issue is not one to be taken up lightly. To exemplify, we need to examine whether or not we believe that public oversight of business activities is wrong in its essence. If so, then John McCain's actions in protecting Keating from regulators is a fundamentally correct one. If, however, we wish to pillory McCain for his part in the S&L calamity, then we must also discard deregulation and trickle-down economics and reexamine the responsibilities of the democratic institutions of the public in controlling the nation's economy. The latter necessitates a colossal paradigm shift on the scale of the one that brought us Reaganomics.

Somehow, even with the financial markets now doing a "China Syndrome", I doubt that many readers have the guts to shoulder the responsibility that paradigm shift requires. Building the economy when it is strongly supervised by the government requires that YOU, the public, be personally involved in efforts to improve the nation's democratic institutions.YOU (the public), however, are lazy, ignorant, and have no self discipline. You would rather cheer and jeer from ringside; like the nation's political process were nothing but a big professional wrestling match. You would rather the fundamental conditions of your existence be controlled by CEOs and bosses, because you can't be bothered with the effort of being actively involved in trying to make America a better place yourself.

So, criticize the journalists? Don't expect they try to tell you something that you will refuse to listen to.

Has anyone seen this? If so, what do you think about it?


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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