About a 15-minute drive from my house in quaint northeastern Connecticut lies a towering green and white pseudo-metropolis of debauchery. Foxwoods Resort Casino, until last year the biggest casino in the world, is run by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe of Native Americans, who owned the land many years ago. It is now run by a handful of the surviving tribe members who tend to live on a designated reservation a few miles away.
To be considered a legal member of the tribe, aspirants must prove that they are at least one-sixteenth Mashantucket. If their genes make the cut, they in turn get a cut of the casino profit: Mashantucket members receive a six-figure allowance every year after they turn 18. And all they have to do is be alive.
A few of my friends are Mashantucket. One bought a brand new Mercedes-Benz CLK for himself as a birthday treat.
Aside from the absurd amount of money the casino makes duping the helpless and gullible dreamers of America, it is also rumored to be a substantial drug front.
It was with this in mind that I read a recent New York Times article about Sen. John McCain’s ties to the Mashantucket Pequot Indians. McCain is a two-time chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and was influential in passing the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. He is an ardent gambler, and it is not much of a secret that the tribe has contributed heavily to his campaign.
McCain is a craps man, and he has no qualms about it. He probably picked up the habit back in his military days, throwing dice to pick up some cash on the side and feel the high of winning. It works in perfect congruence with his image as the Maverick: a ballsy risk-taker who loves the feel of an adrenaline rush.
I can just imagine him hunched over the craps table, red-faced and drunk with an empty whiskey tumbler in his left hand, a fat Cuban in his right. Cindy would be on one side, faded off Bloody Marys and Percocets, Palin would be on the other, clapping like a little girl on her birthday, and every time McCain got lucky he would raise his hands as high as his shoulders and shout, ‘I’m the Maverick, baby!’ before sneaking into his jacket pocket and taking a key bump from an 8-ball he copped from the concierge earlier that night.
Perhaps I’m embellishing, but we never really know what politicians do when the spotlights are out.
Even Barack Obama has his vices. He too is a gambling man. Barack used to play poker every Wednesday while he was an Illinois state senator in the 1990s. The group primarily consisted of other Illinois senators, mostly white men, and it was said that Obama often won. Even while playing poker he was working the game of politics, using the sociability of the poker table to form ties with prominent lawyers and lobbyists who would aid his ascent to the higher ranks of government.
But that doesn’t make him any less of a hustler than McCain, and in fact, maybe he’s even sneakier for using the game for political gain. Can we really trust either of these two swindling gamblers to wage bets with our country’s wealth?
If we took the time to thumb through American historical anecdotes, we would find that vices and politics go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Richard Nixon supposedly used the winnings from his World War II poker games to fund his first Congressional race. George W. Bush was arrested in 1976 at the age of 30 for driving under the influence, and it was only when he found Jesus 10 years later that he changed his ways.
What about the presidential sexual pens’eacute;es? We all know that Thomas Jefferson held one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, as his concubine and even fathered her illegitimate child. Then there’s my boy Billy Clinton, who just liked to occasionally have some fun with the closest office intern he could find.
So what does all this say about politics in America? Are all our politicians crooked and skeezy? Do we hand the reigns of power to the corrupt? Or do the reigns of power themselves have the tendency to corrupt?
Neither. The fact that we can continue unearthing skeletons from our leaders’ closets only means that they are as starkly and unforgivably human as the people who elected them. Politics is always going to be a gamble, for politicians and voters. Investing trust in a politician is a risk, and at the end of the day all we can hope for is that we are backing a winner.
Diptesh Soni, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a weekly columnist for The Daily Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.