McMahon's most grievous utterance was made on videotape more than a decade ago when he instructed young prosecutors about how the game is played when picking a jury.
Twist the truth when expedient, he urged. For example, by feigning illness if a jury panel doesn't look like it will deliver a conviction.
But McMahon undoubtedly was speaking candidly when he discussed race, sex and other factors involved in jury selection. After all, this was inside stuff. He didn't expect it to be made public by Abraham's minions in the midst of a political campaign.
He certainly made some offensive remarks, but he was only saying aloud what many prosecutors whisper: Keep blacks from the low-income areas off juries, along with ``young black women, teachers, doctors, social workers and smart people.''
No news there. But to bring home the point, he also said on the tape that the aim of jury selection was not to get a fair, impartial jury, but ``to get a conviction.''
What a bombshell!
Ironically, the lies politicians tell don't usually get them into trouble. The truth often does.
And Abraham was appalled!
As painful as it was, she professed, it was her duty once she learned of the existence of the tape to make it public.
So, she gathered herself, bravely putting aside all politics, and discharged her responsibility. After all, she was ``ethically, morally and legally'' bound to send the tape to 19 defense attorneys. The result: Several murderers may now have their convictions overturned and be retried, thanks to the prosecutor who wants to have virtually every convicted murderer executed.
At a crowded press conference, Abraham condemned McMahon as a ``rogue assistant district attorney who violated the law and the canons of ethics.''
The fact is that the sort of jury-selection tactics McMahon described are widely considered to be standard operating procedure among prosecutors in Philadelphia.
``I don't think this is the exception,'' said Andre Dennis, the former chancellor of the local bar. ``This is probably the rule.''
Now that statement has the ring of truth.
In this sordid affair, Abraham and McMahon have simply acted like what they are, politicians engaged in blood sport heedless of the public hunger for good government.
They have provided further confirmation that the public is right in believing that virtually all politicians are a little sleazy and that they're fuzzy about the difference between right and wrong.
Abraham is adroit at stirring controversy and then slithering away from the problem. One way of doing so is to suggest that what she meant may not have been exactly what she said.
Example: When she was asked by a magazine reporter if blacks were responsible for 85 percent of the city's crime, she bluntly responded in the affirmative. Councilman Michael Nutter, quick to the charge, fumed that the D.A. overstated the black crime rate by a third.
After a tug of war with Nutter, Abraham finally apologized with a statement saying she recognized that her answer ``should have been more expansive and detailed in setting forth the many possible, complex and varied reasons, including racial bias, for the disparity in arrests, incarceration and victimization rates in the African American community.''
But it didn't take Abraham long to stumble once again on the issue of race, when she spoke of her difficulty in hiring black prosecutors due to the so-called ``Darden Dilemma,'' named for the inexperienced O.J. Simpson prosecutor.
She cited a Newsweek article, alleging that some black prosecutors are caught between ``not wanting to put more brothers in jail and not wanting to let black predators go free.''
Once again, Councilman Michael Nutter was happy to pounce.
And leave it to Nutter to put the D.A.'s race into context. It's all about which candidate is less racist.
When the debate gets down to such a gutter level, it really doesn't matter who wins the race for district attorney in November.
What does matter is that either way, Philadelphia, once again, will be the big loser.
Claude Lewis' column appears on Mondays and Wednesdays.