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McCain Hearts Liddy.

October 23, 2008

The Chicago Tribune, a right-leaning publication who made headlines for endorsing a Democrat for the first time ever, released a scathing criticism of John McCain and his association with convicted felon, G. Gordon Liddy.

The article accuses McCain of hypocrisy in demanding Barack Obama “explain” his relationship with Bill Ayers, but stonewalling any attempt to clarify the extent of his relationship with Liddy, who famously advocated the use of lethal force against federal agents.

Liddy is not someone most of us would want to see visiting the Oval Office. Working for President Richard Nixon, he committed a raft of crimes to secure Nixon’s re-election and punish his perceived enemies. He proposed to do still more—bomb the liberal Brookings Institution, kidnap anti-war activists and murder a couple of inconvenient people. But cooler heads prevailed.

What does any of this have to do with McCain? Plenty. Liddy held a fundraiser at his home for McCain’s 1998 Senate re-election race. He agreed to speak at another McCain fundraiser in 2000.

He has given several large contributions to McCain, including $1,000 this year. He has hosted McCain on his radio show, where the Arizona senator gushed, “I’m proud of you.”

McCain says Liddy paid his debt, as if that erases everything. Actually, most of the debt was forgiven by President Jimmy Carter, who commuted his sentence. McCain doesn’t mention that, like Ayers, Liddy has never repented of his crimes, but takes pride in them.

His contempt for the law has not abated. After the 1993 raid in Waco, Texas, Liddy urged lethal violence against federal agents. “Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms,” he told listeners. “Kill the sons of bitches.” Only a year later did he amend his remarks to recommend that citizens not shoot unless they are shot at—which would have been a great comfort to any ATF agents gunned down in the meantime.

But don’t take that as a sign that he has changed his ways. Liddy, who as a convicted felon is forbidden to possess a firearm, has bragged about keeping guns in his house and using them for target shooting. When I asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms what an ex-con could get for firing a gun, even at a target range, I was told it’s a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

For at least a decade, this unreformed criminal and enemy of democracy has been McCain’s loyal friend, supporter and contributor. It may be a mystery just why the Republican nominee consorts with a lawless radical. But it’s no mystery why he doesn’t want to talk about it.

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