Friday, September 06, 2013

John McCain's Irresponsible Poker Moment

Political pundits were abuzz this week after prominent Senator and former Republican Presidential nominee John McCain (R-AZ) was captured by Washington Post reporter Melina Mara sneaking in a little play-chip poker on his iPhone (photo at right) during a Senate hearing on the possibility of US military intervention in Syria.

Mara's fellow Post worker David Beard subsequently Tweeted the photo, kicking off the expected firestorm of snarky commentary and finger-wagging, up to and including a "David Letterman Show" top-ten list of made-up excuses by McCain on why he was playing video games during an important Senate hearing.

A lot of observers have noted the general hypocrisy in McCain playing a game (poker), about which he's been a strident opponent of in the past, and there's a point to be made about that.  McCain was a strong supporter of noted fellow Arizona Senator and "Four Horsemen of the Online Poker Apocalypse" member Jon Kyl, back when Kyl joined Bill Frist in jamming the UIGEA through Congress in 2006, attached to an unrelated port-security bill.  The Daily Caller piece linked above even remembered to include an old classic -- Doyle Brunson's long blog rant about McCain's anti-gambling stance, published back in the DoylesRoom days.

So what was McCain's excuse?  Boredom.  McCain quickly Tweeted himself about the gaffe: "Scandal! Caught playing iPhone game at 3+ hour Senate hearing - worst of all I lost!"

Well, whatever.  Pols do that garbage all the time.  It was only a few months ago that a handful of French Parliament members were caught doing the same thing, and if we expect our politicians to be anything other than hypocritical hyenas, we're really fooling ourselves.

If there's a sadness to it all, it's that McCain couldn't even be bothered to keep his serious political face on during a hearing of such relative global importance -- the United States considering military options in yet another Middle East country is something that everyone should be taking seriously.  We'll keep this piece apolitical, and just note that it really doesn't matter whether or not McCain likes or disagrees with John Kerry (who was speaking as McCain tilted off his play chips), or whether McCain has already made up his mind irrevocably on the issues being discussed.  That McCain couldn't care enough to even pretend to be paying attention, given what was going on, is the real shame of the tale.

It's just another story of a politician proving again that what they say and what they do are light years away from each other.  American poker players understand that all too well.

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