And now the drugs come up

I’ve heard more than a few Democrats wringing their hands about how the Republicans might make hash (pun intended) of Obama’s admission of using marijuana and cocaine in his youth.  But it would appear that Cindy McCain’s pill problems are becoming the focus of campaign scuttlebutt instead.

Aside from a lengthy contemporary investigation from Phoenix’s alternative weekly and occasional mentions since then, the addiction back-story — including ample questions about what John McCain knew, when he knew it and questions over whether he was complicit in the cover-up — has gone largely untold. Until now.

Tom Gosinski, a former employee of the medical-aid charity Cindy McCain used as personal supplier of Percocet and Vicodin, is speaking out publicly for the first time.

You can see OpenLeft’s interview with Gosinski here, here, here, and here.

The Washington Post is talking about it as well.

When questions arose about a vacation the McCains took to Keating’s home in the Bahamas, Cindy McCain, as family bookkeeper, was asked to document that they had reimbursed the Keatings, but she could not. She has repeatedly cited the stress of the Keating Five scandal and pain from two back surgeries that same year as reasons for her dependence on painkillers.

Her charity, AVMT, kept a ready supply of antibiotics and over-the-counter pain medications needed to fulfill its medical mission. It also secured prescriptions for the narcotic painkillers Vicodin, Percocet and Tylenol 3 in quantities of 100 to 400 pills, the county report shows.

McCain started taking narcotics for herself, the report shows. To get them, she asked the charity’s medical director, John Max Johnson, to make out prescriptions for the charity in the names of three AVMT employees.

The employees did not know their names were being used. And under DEA regulations, Johnson was supposed to use a form to notify federal officials that he was ordering the narcotics for the charity. It is illegal for an organization to use personal prescriptions to fill its drug needs.

“The DEA told me it was okay to do it that way,” Johnson told The Washington Post recently, in his first media interview about the case. “Otherwise, I never would have done it.”

The county report showed that Johnson told officials he knew it was wrong, but he wrote prescriptions at McCain’s request at least twice.

But according to AmericaBlog, the Post also had an interview with Gosinski, but apparently pulled it from their website.  AmericaBlog later found a mirror of the interview on another newssite.

AmericaBlog is right to point out that the main issue here is John McCain, not his wife.  Did McCain misuse his power to cover up Cindy McCain’s theft of her charity’s pills?  That’s what we’re talking about.  Cindy McCain’s behavior is not the central issue. And just like Sarah Palin’s daughter, McCain’s wife’s private struggles are hers to deal with.  The allegations of theft and corruption are much more serious than Bristol and her boyfriend’s child, but it’s still sordid and tabloid.  Although it does demonstrate the routine hypocrisy our leaders demonstrate when they are confronted with drug problems (because through their connections and influence they are able to exercise myriad options in treatment and privacy while the rest of us are only given limited options of “just say no” or “go to jail”), this airing of dirty laundry should not be the central theme of the election.

Still, it’s hard to read Gosinski’s notes and not come away with a sad and sour opinion on the McCains as a whole:

In an Oct. 5, 1992, entry, Gosinski writes about a story that circulated just a few days after Cindy McCain’s parents, Jim and Smitty Hensley, confronted her about her drug abuse.

Last Friday, late in the afternoon, Miss Jeri (Cindy’s aunt) was visiting with Dalton Smith, the Hensley’s Pilot about Jim and Smitty confronting Cindy about her drug problem. During the conversation Dalton mentioned an incident which took place a couple of years ago — Cindy had taken too many pills and had been rushed to a hospital near their home on Oak Creek. John McCain was rushed to the hospital and rather than helping Cindy obtain help he had her dismissed from the hospital and taken to the Cabin. I had assumed the entire family knew of the incident as Kathy Walker had mentioned it to me many months ago but come to find out Jeri and the Hensleys knew nothing of it. Needless to say it was very painful for Miss Jeri to find this out and she was very concerned about what the news of this occurrence would do to Jim and Smitty. Whatever the outcome, I doubt that Jim and Smitty will ever be able to respect John McCain again

[…]

“During my short tenure at AVMT, I have been surrounded by what on the surface appears to be the ultimate All American family,” he writes on July 27, 1992. “In reality, I am working for a very sad, lonely woman whose marriage of convenience to a US Senator has driven her to: distance herself from friends; cover feelings of despair with drugs; and replace lonely moments with self-indulgences.”

Drug policies and attitudes in America exist as a semi-permanent backburner subject.  We all know it’s a problem, but no one really wants to deal with it, so no one does deal with it.  Much like sex, drugs are a topic that is plagued with politicians and policy makers exuding public platitudes of abstinence or redemption, while behind the scenes the realities of addiction are much more abstruse.

But lest you think this will be only drug scandal this cycle, remember that Sarah Palin smoked pot when it was legal in Alaska, her husband Todd has a DUI record, and their hometown of Wasilla is considered the methamphetamine capital of Alaska.

Obama aired out his dirty laundry in his book, long before he ran for president.  He talked about his drug use honestly, and it’s barely registered as a blip.  Meanwhile, the McCains have been engaged in CYA for as long as Obama has been truthful, and now it’s coming back to haunt them.  So much for the Dem’s early fears.

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