Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Who said this?

"I know the liberal media. Heck, I was the darling of the liberal media. They're my friends, many of them. I like them. But I think I was only their friend as long as they thought I would undermine the President. When I defended the president, when I refused to surrender in Iraq and supported the surge that is only now bearing fruit--they turned on me like a pack of jackals. That's the way it is.

I could do no wrong before--when I blew my stack they said I was passionate, when I disagreed with them they said I was admirably principled. Now when I disagree with them they just say I'm wrong, I'm stubborn, I've lost. It's August and their idea of in-depth reporting is coming up with new ways of asking me when I'm going to give up my campaign. I think they're about to call in Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton to negotiate my withdrawal.

You know what? I don't care what they think. I like good press. I admit. But they can take a hike. I've made mistakes in this campaign--lots--but I'm going to say what I think. I'm not going to accept defeat in Iraq when victory is possible. And if Tim Russert and George Stephanopoulos don't like it, that's life. They're two votes. And they're ... there's a word for it. They're Democrats. I'm a Republican. I don't expect the Democratic media to love me. It was fun while it lasted. But the Democratic media isn't going to pick the Republican nominee."

-- An imaginary John McCain (as described by Mickey Kaus on Slate)

Kaus is proposing that McCain resuscitate his moribund campaign by savaging the press. Whatever you think about McCain, this strikes me as a brilliant political strategy. I say that because the speech above rekindles my nascent love of McCain. There was a time not so long ago I envisioned voting for McCain. Then he married himself to the war in Iraq and started to sound delusional about the dangers of street shopping in Baghdad. If McCain could somehow spin that into a contrarian-but-optimistic position on the war, well, he just might inject himself back into the thick of this political race.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect, have you been drinking Ken Pollack’s punch?

I assume you mean that McCain has a chance to get back in the race for the Republican nomination. At this point in time (and baring a miracle), a pro-Iraq war candidate will have a steep hill to climb. Two short themes:

1. Practical considerations. McCain owes much of his success to being the darling of the media; attacking said media is going to help how? McCain is looking and acting old from time to time and it will become an issue. He’s lost the independents, who are overwhelmingly against the war. He’s slow to make any inroads to the Republican base, with whom he has an ambivalent relationship at best. Whatever credit he gets from Republicans for standing with Bush is offset to a significant extent by his stand on immigration.

2. The “Man of Principle” (i.e., standing with the President) may help with the Republicans but some independents and independent-minded Democrats who might have voted for him will wish he’d shown the same determination in standing up and standing firm on the torture issue and some will be disturbed by the way he reversed himself and tried to make up with Robertson and Falwell. Does that make him a despicable human being? No, it makes him a politician. He’s not as bad as Romney, but he’s no saint.

Let’s see: McCain supports the war in Iraq, opposes extending stem cell research, wants to repeal Roe v Wade, opposes gay marriage, and so on, but has the “integrity” to stand by his beliefs regardless of how the public feels or what the evidence is. Remind you of anyone?

-- Big Daddy

11:12 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

I agree that a pro-Iraq War candidate will have a steep hill to climb. At this point, however, it looks as if the Democrats, as they are so wont to do, are going to nominate someone who voted for the war and who -- again, at least at this point -- is not calling for withdrawal. So I think the Iraq issue is not a candidate-killer for the GOP necessarily.

As to your themes:

1. Attacking the media will help McCain with the GOP, which distrusts the media and frankly has been skeptical of McCain because of the media's love for him. It will help restore some of his lost credibility on being a "maverick." And it will inject a little life into his flaccid campaign.

Will it completely neutralize immigration or win over independents? Probably not. But the only relevant question is whether it will improve whatever chances he has to win the nomination. I think it might.

2. Forget "man of principle." Think "contrarian maverick."

I'm not wildly enthusiastic about a McCain presidency. But I think he's better than the GOP alternatives, and I'd like to see him get back in this thing. I think this strategy offers a path to relevance -- not victory.

12:14 PM  

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