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Tilting at Windmills

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April 30, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

TARNISHED HALO....Ana Marie Cox, back from spending some face time on the Straight Talk Express, explains how John McCain's willingness to talk to the press endlessly isn't buying him as much love as it did in 2004:

In the past, this tremendous access bred a certain amount of protectiveness among some journalists — you don't want to play "gotcha" with someone who gives all the time. The dynamic on this campaign is slightly different, and the coverage — including mine — shows it. Those new to covering him want to prove they won't fall for the old guy's charm. Those who covered him in 2000 want to prove they never did. Congratulations, blogosphere!

Sounds about right to me, though there's hardly any need to bend over backwards here. If McCain merely gets the coverage he deserves, he's doomed.

Kevin Drum 1:27 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

Given McCain's increasing estrangement from reality, shouldn't that be the Straightjacket Express?

Posted by: Stefan on April 30, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

The more the access, more chance to show the world how old the geezer is and how lopsided his face is - nothing personal John, but people like symmetrical faces sans weird growths.

Ms. Cox has much to learn about the art of writing, witness her use of "tremendous access". "Tremendous" gets my vote for the worst word in the English language. Much of the span reaching my email address contains the word 'tremendous', as in 'tremendous opportunity',' 'tremendous increase in ______ size', etc.

Posted by: Dilbert on April 30, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you meant " . . . isn't buying him as much love as it did in 2000," not 2004.

In any event, McCain is clearly in third place, which is not good on the GOP side.

Posted by: MaxGowan on April 30, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

"If McCain merely gets the coverage he deserves, he's doomed."

Word!

The more McCain talks, the more I feel secured in the knowledge that normal people are going to flee from him.

Posted by: Sheerahkahn on April 30, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam and was subjected to all the torture, isolation and brainwashing that other prisoners were. Kudos to him for surviving. What a brave man. He served his country well. Thank God he got home intact.

Since then, what has he done that makes everyone love him so much? I'm serious, he's not even an interesting speaker!

Posted by: lamonte on April 30, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

If John McCain gets the coverage he deserves, then it will prove that Karl Rove unwittingly backed into the truth (even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while) with the 2000 campaign suggestion that McCain was driven crazy by his time in captivity in Vietnam, an intended smear that I am increasingly starting to believe might actually be fact.

Posted by: Anthony on April 30, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

So the press corps is saving its teenage swooning for Giuliani this time around. The difference is, Giuliani could actually win. It's already time to nip Rudyphilia in the bud.

Posted by: calling all toasters on April 30, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

With all the republican candidates having their own serious problems, I'm not sure if McCain would be doomed,at least not as far as the republican nomination. I look at the alternatives and have a hard time seeing any of them winning the nomination. Sure Giuliani is raising alot of money and polling well now but there's been little critical attention, no debates, and no attack ads yet. Mitt's gotten most of his money support from a pretty small base as I understand. The rest of the field is so far back in money and polls its hard to see any of them taking it at this point. Of course any of them possibly could, but with so many 2nd tier candidates none really stand out so far. So I still see McCain as a strong, if nuts, cadidate for the nomination. Remember, the republican base is way crazier than McCain will ever be.

Posted by: kahner on April 30, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

McCain was driven crazy by his time in captivity in Vietnam or maybe by simple Presidential Lust. In 2000 he was someone one might disagree with about one thing or the other, but he seemed connected to reality on some level. Or was I just naive?

Posted by: thersites on April 30, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Back in 2000 I longed for a Bradley/McCain matchup and would have had problems picking out who to vote for in that case. If it had been Gore/McCain I probably would have actually voted for McCain. That was then and this is now.

If McCain, by some incredible miracle, were to get the GOP nod this time around I think the Dems could run Mickey Mouse and coast to victory.

When McCain was running against the ultimate GOP establishment candidate he presented himself as a maverick and I was able to admire him...if not agree with him. Now, when there is no establishment candidate running in the GOP (and why IS that?), when all the candidates are mavericks of sorts, McCain is falling all over himself to prove his GOP bona fides. It is sickening. Doesn't he realize, after all the fuss made about "flip-flopping" in the last election, that he can't just change his mind and be done with it?

Posted by: majun on April 30, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is still a prisoner of war.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 30, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

One needs only to review Senator McCain's voting record to ascertain how much of a wingnut he truly is. As with other pols (Chuck Hagel?), look at how he votes, not at what he says.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on April 30, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

So the press corps is saving its teenage swooning for Giuliani this time around. The difference is, Giuliani could actually win. It's already time to nip Rudyphilia in the bud.


Anyone who thinks that Giuliani has a snowball's chance in hell of getting elected isn't paying much attention. Actually the entire GOP field as it exists is unelectable. Their problem stems from the fact that none of them can win without holding on to that hardcore 30% base that Bush has. All of the candidates have characteristics that make it unlikely that they can hold that base firm right now. Even allowing for a "hold my nose with one hand and pull the lever with the other" attitude directed toward keeping a Democrat out of the WH, there are significant portions of the Bush constituency who just won't be able to vote for their nominee. Mitt and Giuliani will both have to overcome issues that will keep some significant number of the Christian Right away from the polls. No matter how much they hate the Dem candidate, even if Hilary the anti-christ herself were running, there are some "good Christians" who won't be able to vote for thrice divorced Rudy, or Church of the Latter Day Saints Mitt. That's just the way it is. I'm not saying they will stay away in droves, but even a ten percent dropoff in the Christian Right vote will doom the GOP. McCain is trying hard to keep that base intact, but if he succeeds he will have lost enough of the independent vote to doom him. You can't pander from "the Straight Talk Express". The cognitive dissonance is just too great.

Posted by: majun on April 30, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's foreign policy ideas are crazy.

In 2000 he called for aggressively "destabilizing rogue regimes". This describes the policies implemented by Bush better than Bush's rhetoric about humility in foreign policy.

McCain favors crazy stuff like invading Iraq. McCain is wrong on the merits and out-of-step with the American voters.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 30, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

BG:McCain is still a prisoner of war.

which one?

Posted by: thersites on April 30, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

McCain loves to read fawning coverage in the media. McCain panders to the press corps.

It's no different than politicians who pander to their campaign contributors.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 30, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Certainly McCain has by now become little more than the butt of ridicule.

Yet I think it really could not have been any other way, and his problem is hardly peculiar to him: all Republican candidates will suffer the same fate.

The problem for McCain is the problem for the Republicans is the problem for the entire Conservative movement: their entire political life has no point if they admit that Iraq is a irretrievable disaster.

The point is, everything their most basic ideology has tended toward finds its fruition in Iraq: namely, the solution of all foreign policy problems by the powerful, punishing employment of military force wherever possible. If this strategy is shown in a prominent instance to fail horribly, what's left to their ideology? What's been the point of their political career? Why be a Republican or a Conservative?

I really don't think that either pundits or bloggers really appreciate yet the true extent of the debacle of the Conservative movement. They really have no place to go. They support the Iraq war on the penalty of ideological suicide.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 30, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who thinks that Giuliani has a snowball's chance in hell of getting elected isn't paying much attention. Actually the entire GOP field as it exists is unelectable.

Given the track record of some Democratic presidential candidates, it's not out of the realm of possibility for whoever wins the nomination to run the worst presidential campaign ever. I believe that there are some Democrats in the field who wouldn't shock me by running such a horrible campaign that they could lose if Bush were eligible for a third campaign.

Posted by: Anthony on April 30, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the Republicans are a very divided lot, heading towards certain defeat. There's only one person who can unite all the various factions into a unit that could win . . . Hillary Clinton.

Remember all those confident predictions of a Democratic victory in 2004? We ARE in better shape this time and all . . . but do not underestimate people like, for example, Guiliani. His appeal is he could crush Hillary.

Posted by: MaxGowan on April 30, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wait just a minute. Ana Marie "Buttf*cking" Cox is writing about the facile, credulous, trivia-driven coverage of a presidential candidate?

And O.J. Simpson will become a marriage counselor.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on April 30, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

McCain hasn't changed. He supports the surge, which is natural since he was calling for more troops long before Bush acted. (So was Harry Reid, But, Reid is less consistent with his previous stands. I think Reid's only consistent position is that whatever Bush is doing is wrong.)

Anyhow, maybe the media has gotten tired of McCain. Maybe his pro-war stance is anathema to them. Maybe they liked him best when he was attacking other Republicans, Anyhow, I agree that the media no longer idolize Johon McCain.

Incidentally, we Americans have been pretty consistent at electing Presidents who were white men in their 40's, 50's and 60's, from main stream Protestant denominations. It's exciting that this time we may elect a woman or a Morman or a septugenarian or an African American, or a Roman Catholic.

Posted by: ex-liberal on April 30, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ana Marie "Buttf*cking" Cox is writing about the facile, credulous, trivia-driven coverage of a presidential candidate?

Yeah, leave it to the MSM to pick up the one blogger who manages to give Maureen Dowd a run for her money in the race to reduce Presidential politics to celebrity gossip. I wonder if they have little cut-out dolls to use to dress up their favorite Presidential candidates?

And for Heaven's sake, don't ask them about policies -- they're just girls!

Posted by: frankly0 on April 30, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

We've elected a septugenarian before (Reagan in '84), by a landslide. There have been three Catholic nominees (all Democrats), with one winner, and look at what happened to him. But I can't remember the last time a Catholic Republican was a contender. Does anyone?

Posted by: MaxGowan on April 30, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Yeah, leave it to the MSM to pick up the one blogger who manages to give Maureen Dowd a run for her money in the race to reduce Presidential politics to celebrity gossip."

Ouch!
I used to like Maureen Dowd...till, as you say "reduce Presidential politics to celebrity gossip."
Now...now, I just cannot read her anymore.
A pity really...but oh well.

Posted by: Sheerahkahn on April 30, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe St. McCain can squeeze (it would be a real *tight* fit) into his old A-4 and just bomb the heck out of the media if they don`t cover him like he wants.

What a loose cannon his mind has become.

Where are the adults "We the people..." are always promised ?

"First get your facts, then you can distort them at your leisure" - Mark Twain

Posted by: daCascadian on April 30, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK
nip Rudyphilia in the bud.calling all toastersat 2:30 PM
How can you do that when he presents such an attractive candidate

McCain, despite his maverick label, has a very conservative voting record .

...we may elect a woman or a Morman or a septugenarian or an African American ....ex-lax at 3:57 PM

Don't forget the Republican transvestite vote.

Posted by: Mike on April 30, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think Reid's only consistent position is that whatever Bush is doing is wrong. — ex-liberal

huh? considering the previous sentence, that makes no sense at all, unless you're saying that bush at some point was against the war!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: mudwall jackson on April 30, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

McCain was only useful to the media when he could be used to attack Bush. Most conservatives knew years ago that the honeymoon would be over with this election.

Posted by: harry on April 30, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget the Republican transvestite vote." posted by: Mike on April 30, 2007 at 4:49 PM

Yes, honey. I already have my red stilettos and best 10-mile wig ready for voting day.

Oh, wait. I'm already a woman....dang it!

Posted by: Zit on April 30, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Singing "babababa bomb Iran" and making fun of IED explosive devices shows how out of touch McCain is. Did you hear Congressman Murtha screetch about this on the house floor?
McCain continually reminds people he is too advanced in years for the job. Not to sound ageist, but not to be able to answer a question on condoms helping to prevent AIDS in Africa--sitting there with a long pause, then remarking, well, you lost me there...that reflects being too out of it for the job. Parading about the Iraqi marketplace in a flak jacket similarly hurt him.

Posted by: consider wisely always on April 30, 2007 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

mudwall jackson, not long ago Harry Reid criticized Bush for having too few troops in Iraq. Yet, Harry Reid opposes the surge, even though it's more-or-less what he had recommended. This seems inconsistent.

In my view, it is consistent if one understands that Reid has no real interest how many troops are needed. He just concistently opposes whatever decision Bush makes.

Posted by: ex-liberal on April 30, 2007 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Totally agree with those upstring who are incredulous that Cox is pretending to be a serious reporter. What a sad freaking joke. What next? Larry King as Secretary of State? Our country -- our world -- faces some of the biggest problems anyone can imagine. Reporters are supposed to help hold these guys to account. What do we get instead -- an endless supply of phony hip snarky gossipy bullshit from Ana Marie Cox. Fuck you, Wonkette.

Posted by: Pat on April 30, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal certainly wears {her|his|its} dishonesty well don`t ya think ? Must be all the practice {he|it|she} gets.

A perfect example of what Henry Wallace was writing about.

Oh, when will they ever learn ?

"...The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information..." - Henry Wallace

Posted by: daCascadian on April 30, 2007 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

faux-liberal writes: "mudwall jackson, not long ago Harry Reid criticized Bush for having too few troops in Iraq."

When was that, dear? And what were the conditions in Iraq? And how many troops was Reid asking for? And what did he want to do with them? These are crucial details, dear, but alas, you completely fail to mention them since they would, as usual, reveal your utter dishonesty and ineptitude. Do come back when you've actually got a real argument to make, won't you?

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