Tom Toles’s cartoon in the Washington Post on Sunday captured the hero-worshipping attitude towards the Republican presidential candidate John McCain (presumptive) by the MSM, and especially by the press corps and the pundits in Washington, who seem to go out their way to be “fair” to their man, treating him with kid gloves and giving him the benefit of the doubt when he screws up. Remember Vicki Iseman, the Washington lobbyist whose friendship with St. John the Maverick had raised his own aides’ eyebrows and was exposed by the New York Times? Why should you? It was the Times that ended up being depicted as the villain in the narrative by the media that allowed the Straight Talk Express to run over the story. Embarrassing (to McCain) topics such as his anti-Catholic evangelist or his Iran-supports-Al Qaeda Senior Moment seem to disappear from the media’s radar screen very quickly.
More recently, journalists and pundits have treated McCain’s foreign policy address, in which he committed himself to continue pursuing President Bush’s policies in the Middle East and establishing more “coalitions of the willing,” as though it was a serious attempt to reorient U.S. policy in a more realistic direction: John McCain reading Norman Podhoretz’s lines but being portrayed as the ideological heir to George Kennan.
And if you thought that the renewed fighting in Iraq – where U.S. troops were being drawn into clashes between various Shi’ite groups – was a clear political setback to the pro-surge McCain, you may be surprised to learn that according to the New York Times the new offensive in Iraq “posed new challenges and opportunities to the candidates, particularly Senator John McCain.” The “political memo” in the Times, whose spin echoed in other commentary in the MSM, seemed to suggest that that things were actually going quite well in Iraq before the start of the new fighting, and that if one pro-Iranian Shi’ite clique headed by PM Nuri Kama al-Maliki will beat-up the rival pro-Iran Shi’ite group led by Moqtada al Sadr, McCain will then win political brownie points.
In any case, it seems to me that based on the spin that the media is buying, McCain will always be scoring points with the electorate. If the surge is a “success,” then that would clearly demonstrate that we need to keep U.S. troops in Iraq. And if the surge doesn’t work and violence is up again, well, that would also clearly demonstrate that we need to keep U.S. troops in Iraq.
Leading members of the MSM are also trying to demolish one of the most effective gimmicks that the antiwar crowd has been using against John “One-Hundred-Year-War” McCain. After columnist Charles Krauthammer bashed as a “dirty lie” the claim by Democrats that McCain was willing to keep the troops in Iraq for another 100 years, Gordon Peterson, the moderator of the “Inside Washington” political roundtable television show, noted that he and all the other panelists on the show – liberals and conservatives — agreed that
what McCain was talking about back in New Hampshire when the subject came up was the sort of presence we have had for more than a half-century in Japan and South Korea. Said McCain, such a presence in Iraq, “…would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed.”
Sounds to me as if McCain did say that he was willing to keep the troops in Iraq for another 100 years. But Peterson and other members of the Washington punditry don’t get so excited when McCain and other pro-war figures suggest that those who call for a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Mesopotamia want to “cut and run” in Mesopotamia.
Unfortunately, I don’t think we are going to see a sketch about the media’s McCainia on “Saturday Night Live” any time soon.