Michelle and Cindy -- Family Affairs

September 21, 2008 by susan
arty photo of Cindy McCain

I said I wasn't going to arrange the letters, P, A, L, I, N, in any order resembling the name of the woefully, nay, scandalously, unfit to be VP, former mayor of Wasilla. (Although we can go with NIPAL or LAPIN -- which is French for Alaskan bunny.) And because it's said that the more we talk about the person in question, the more we keep her at the top of the news, I won't mention her. So okay, this one is about the other ticket-topper, Cindy McCain. Can you believe it? F'in Cindy McCain? Oh yeah, much more.

To be fair, it's said that she is the reluctant campaigner, the "you're running for what?" future First Babe. On the other hand, there are people like Colin Powell (And history's jury is still out on him. Or is it?) who are said to have decided not to run when their mates objected to being put through the media wringer of modern politics. (Curious to me that these family-lovin' guys like George Bush and John McCain tend to steamroll the little lady when their own ambitions flare up.)

So once Cindy surrendered to her higher Pilot, she became fair game. (And speaking of the Pilot, is it true that he crashed five Navy planes before he took the final plunge into Lake Hanoi?)

Where was I? Oh, Cindy.

If you haven't read the September 15 New Yorker profile of her, you should. I know it doesn't matter what sort of family produced the candidate, or the candidate's spouse. More than one president has had a "funny" brother (think Billy Carter) or an ethically-challenged father (think Joe Kennedy) or an apostate son (think Ron Reagan Jr.). But in this Rovian era of evangelical "our family's way or the highway", with their smug moral superiority, it does matter.

So, think of this. Michelle Obama, born to working class parents in Chicago, product of the Chicago public schools, daughter of a stay-at-home mother and a father who worked a factory job until retirement (despite his advancing MS), yes, that Michelle, who earned a scholarship to Princeton, who has a blemish-free academic, criminal and every other sort of record, that Michelle who had to stand up on the first night of the convention and plead with America to see "just" as a daughter, mother and wife, yes, that one, she is a disgrace to this country. She was married by Rev. Wright, ergo, she hates America. Nuff said.

Now, think of Cindy.
Part 1) Cindy McCain was born to Jim and Marguerite (Smitty) Hensley in Phoenix, AZ. She grew up with privilege, the apple of her father's eye, and became a sorority girl at the University of Southern California. When she graduated from USC, her father gave her a Porsche. When she crashed the Porsche, he replaced if with a gold Mercedes.

Although she calls herself an only child, she in fact has two half-sisters, one on her mother's side and one on her father's.

Her father walked out on his high-school sweetheart, wife #1 and mother of his daughter, Kathleen, when he met Cindy's mother Smitty at a military facility in West Virgina. (Yes Virginia, history really does repeat itself.)
Smitty also had a daughter from a previous marriage but she appears to be --or doesn't -- invisible. Jim Hensley, who went on to make millions in the liquor and beer biz, was in daughter Kathleen's life in only a marginal way -- paying a few bills, showing up on Christmas, and walking her down the aisle when she got married.

According to the New Yorker, Kathleen felt the neglect, sought his attention and visited him nearly every day in his final years, yet when he died he left her family only $10,000. Cindy got all the rest -- around $100 million. At his funeral, with Kathleen sitting in the front row, Cindy gave a eulogy describing his "generosity and kindness" and referred to herself as his only child. So much for sisterhood.

Part 2. Jim Hensley made a lot of money in his lifetime, but his beginning with booze was a little rocky. In 1948 he and his brother Eugene were convicted on federal conspiracy charges for filing more than twelve hundred fake invoices to cover up under-the-table sales of liquor to night clubs and bars throughout the state. (I'm taking this straight from the New Yorker.)

Eugene was sentenced to a year in prison, Jim to six months -- but Jim's sentence was suspended with the help of his lawyer, a former mayor of Phoenix. Okay, early mistakes. Despite the criminal conviction, Hensley was granted a license to start an Anheuser-Busch distributorship in 1955, which proved to be the mother lode of bad-but-plentiful beer.

Part 3. Never mind the part that they both lied about their ages, and marital status when they met --"our marriage was started on a tissue of lies," Cindy jokes -- let's get to the drug addict part. From 1989 to 1992, Cindy was addicted to painkillers and ultimately stole them from her charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team, using fake prescriptions. (Which got other people fired and in big trouble.)
She says she was home alone a lot with the kids in Phoenix while John was away in Washington, so she turned to drugs and, he says, he didn't notice. (Another close family moment.) Her parents, who lived across the street, did notice, confronted her and she quit. She then completed a federal diversion program, and her record was swiped clean. What happened in Phoenix stayed in Phoenix -- until 1994, when local papers informed the McCains that they were going to run the story. With that, the war hero and beer heiress held a press conference, she offered a few mea culpas, compared herself to Betty Ford, and that was that.

As I've written before, personal morality is not my concern, as long as you aren't screwing (well, you know) other people or your country or the planet.

What turns me into a bug-eyed raving maniac is that Cindy and John McCain (and Sarah NIPAL and Newt Gingrich and Norm Coleman and Larry Craig and Mark Foley and on and on) wrap themselves in the mantle of family values while pointing the finger at those of us on the "secular" left for our "anti-family" values. I've been married 42 years, most of my friends have also successfully navigated the marital seas for many a year, and Minnesota's political heros are a pretty square bunch. Think Hubert Humphrey, Fritz Mondale, Don Fraser, Martin Sabo, Paul Wellstone, Amy Klobuchar - between them they have about 1000 years of marriage. Sure, we have a few bad boys, but they are rarely sanctimonious twits prattling on about their beliefs while obsessing on those of others. (Eliot Spitzer excepted.)

And what ratchets my anger up into the carmine zone is that they have the nerve to question the values of Barack and Michelle Obama.

I know this turf has been covered, but superimpose Cindy McCain's drug and theft history, her affair with an older married man, and her father's conviction, onto Michelle Obama. And for fun, let's say that ex-con dad bought her a gold Mercedes after she smashed up her Porsche. And just maybe she has a knocked up 16 year old daughter. She'd be chum for the jackals of talk radio, the scourge of Fox news, and UNFIT for the White House. Well, even with out that record she's managed to become the first two of those.

Writing that last bit morphed my anger into sadness, because it brought up the racism in all of this. And only those deeply involved in the practice of cranial-rectal inversions don't see it.

This is not the country I dreamed of turning over to my grandchildren.

Posted in


kimbers (not verified) | September 21, 2008 - 2:37pm

"This is not the country I dreamed of turning over to my grandchildren."

And we won't.




Unwaivering in the face of all obstacles.

If it will make you feel any better Susan, watch Cindy McCain's face (lips in particular) next time you can sit thru McCain on the stump, especially now that he's trying to pretend to be an agent of change.

Me thinks the beer heiress has a SERIOUS inner battle going on with the candidates wife about how much she's willing to sell her soul to be the first lady.

Also, this is probably not the year for the Anheuser-Busch Companies to be sponsoring the debates....



susan | September 22, 2008 - 1:07am

Thanks for the link to publicintergrity.org, and the sponsors of the debates, including Anheuser-Busch. But it looks like you're being suckered too! Poet, clarify this sucker thing.


Poet (not verified) | September 21, 2008 - 11:48pm

Susan you are still being suckered--

Read Larissa Alexandrova on the Huff Post--she reports in part:

"Adam Davidson of NPR blogs about the so-called bailout bill as follows:

I would guess that this has to be one of the biggest peacetime transfers of power from Congress to the Administration in history. (Anyone know?). Certainly one of the most concise.

The Treasury Secretary can buy broadly defined assets, on any terms he wants, he can hire anyone he wants to do it and can appoint private sector companies as financial deputies of the US government. And he can write whatever regulation he thinks are needed.

Most importantly, Davidson points to this passage in the bill:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."


Now that's something worth sinking your journalistic teeth into--what we have here is a financial "emergency" being foisted off the Congress that will make 911's draconian abridgements of constitutional freedoms trivial by comparison.


susan | September 22, 2008 - 12:57am

Still being suckered? Oh poet, you know how to hurt a girl! I'm okay with being a sucker every now and again, but a consistent sucker? Ouch.
I assume you mean that I've taken the distracting bait of Cindy McCain and Sarah McPain, and failed to pay attention to the "biggest peacetime transfers of power from Congress to the Administration in history".
It's late, but I'll sink my journalistic choppers, such as they are, into Alexandrova's piece in the a.m. Thanks for the jab.


Poet (not verified) | September 22, 2008 - 8:40am

The "suckered thing" is not only applied to you but also to me and the rest of the country. Turning politicians (and their spouses) into the objects of celebrity type gossip is like eating a giant wad of cotton candy.

It tastes sweet in the mouth, gives a brief burst of energy, and in the end leaves you empty and unfulfilled. The meat, bread, and veggies of political discourse are issues in general and specifically economic issues.

Assuming that you meant no sarcasm, I appologize for any "hurt" I inflicted--that was not my purpose. Getting you to read Larissa's piece and comment on it was my purpose.