Sunday, March 30, 2008



I'm in the middle of reading the new book by David Brock and Paul Waldman, Free Ride: John McCain and the Media and one of the first things I realized is that the Washington Post shouldn't allow David Broder to write about John McCain. He's proven himself to be a steadfast p.r. agent for John McCain over the years and the Post should just ask him to cover other topics instead.

So was I surprised to wake up this morning and see another misleading Broder piece extolling the greatness of John W. McCain? Not at all. In fact I was prepared for it because when I woke up Howard Kurtz and one of the Republican Party's embedded reporters on CNN, Amy Holmes, were making the point about how fairly and scrupulously the media has treated McCain and how they most certainly do not have their collective head up his ass.

I laughed as I pulled on my socks and shut off the TV and remembered something I had read yesterday at the live blog session over at Firedoglake with Paul Waldman in response to a question from CMike: "Do you believe if you make an effective enough case the press can be persuaded to conduct itself more objectively [towards McCain]?"
That’s the $64,000 question. Our book alone may not be enough to convince the entire Washington press corps to do some introspection on the way they’ve been covering McCain. But we hope we can start a conversation-- one that will be enhanced in the blogosphere-- that will ultimately push the issue to the point where they can’t ignore it. And while some of my friends might not agree, I do believe that reporters want to do a good job. So our hope is that they can be persuaded to take a step back and ask whether their coverage of McCain has been what it should be, or whether they’re just repeating that he’s a principled maverick delivering straight talk, over and over and over…

That's very idealistic of Paul... but by reading his own book I imagine he can't possibly include Broder in his hopeful construct. If there's one thing Broder is likely to me remembered for after he's worm food, other than being McCain's biggest cheerleader in the Washington press corps, was his disgraceful role in urging the country to invade Iraq on trumped up and manipulated intelligence. The campaign broadside that Broder did for McCain today certainly flows right out of his own role as someone who helped push the country into the Iraq fiasco.

He sets it up as a comparison between Barack Obama's historic and inspiring speech on race-- which he denigrates into another anti-Obama Pastor Wright smear that Broder has made into his 2008 personal trademark-- and McCain's grubby and completely unremarkable talk in L.A. last week about maintaining and expanding the Bush Regime's Crusader mentality towards the Middle East. The key purpose of Broder's love letter to McCain today seems to explain how his is "a vastly different approach from President Bush's and one that might heal the wounds left here at home and abroad by the past seven years." You might think it was written for him by one of the 66 lobbyists driving the Double Talk Express or by Mark McKinnon except this is the standard Broder line that should have caused the Post, if it were even vaguely interested in objectivity-- which it certainly isn't-- to bench Broder from writing about his pal McCain for the duration of the presidential campaign.

Broder always takes all of the McCain p.r. tropes as gospel and amplifies and aggrandizes them for the masses. In this case, he is building on the carefully crafted McCain campaign theme that he is a "military hero" (though he never did anything heroic) and a "warrior" (although his only war-making was one dismal failure after another, crashing 5 planes due to his own pigheaded refusal to pay attention to instructions, accidentally killing hundreds of American sailors, bombing innocent Vietnamese civilians from 20,000 feet, and eventually being shot down, captured and imprisoned). Tragic, yes, but heroic? Why?)
Like Obama's address, this McCain speech is worthy of careful study and analysis. It began with a note that only a warrior such as McCain could choose-- a declaration by the son and grandson of combat veterans and the survivor of a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp that "I detest war" as only a man who has experienced its horrors can do. "Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war," he said, in rejecting the caricature of his own belligerence and explaining why he emphasizes diplomacy as the principal tool in a presidential arsenal and says that scholarships will be more important than smart bombs in winning the war on terrorism.

Broder is misleading his readers. McCain craves war and is running for president primarily to be a war president. His entire campaign is geared towards persuading Americans that they must forget that his economic and social positions are anathema and detrimental to their own well-being and instead vote for his as Commander-in-Chief. Broder makes no mention of "100 more years of war," or of the inevitability of a military draft if McCain's agenda ever gets enacted or of McCain's little "Bomb Iran" singing debut. Broder claims McCain repudiates unilateralism but he and McCain are as convincing as Bush and Condi are when they make believe they also repudiate it. At least Cheney, who speaks for all of them, is honest enough to embrace it.

And, of course, Cheerleader Broder never tries to compare or contrast McCain's hot air with his actual votes. Hot air is cheap; votes are the bottom line. And their is always a vast chasm between McCain's p.r. position and his actual votes in the Senate. "America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us as a model," he said. "We can't torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured. I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with our allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control." Who, reading that would think that McCain has voted in favor of torture? No one, but if Broder were an actual journalist, rather than an insipid old p.r. hack, he would provide the facts rather than just the soaring rhetoric.

When Chris Matthews let the truth of McCain's relationship with the national media-- “The press loves McCain, we’re his base"-- he didn't single anyone out for special attention but always at the head of the line to press a big wet one on McCain's butt is David Broder. Free Ride does what Broder and the national press corps will never do. It examines how the media aided McCain's rebirth following the Keating Five savings-and-loan scandal, and how it then reinvented his half dead carcass as the “maverick,” “straight-talking” hero of the 2000 primaries, never once looking at his extremist voting record, a record that places him firmly with the radical right on every important issue facing America. McCain's voting record mimics the voting records of extremists like Larry Craig (R-ID), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), David Vitter (R-LA) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and is immeasurably closer to the neo-fascist bloc in the GOP caucus-- crackpots like Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), James Inhofe (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX)-- than he is to mainstream conservatives like Arlen Specter (R-PA), George Voinovich (R-OH), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), John Warner (R-VA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), or Chuck Grassley (R-IA).


Arizona journalists are more aware, or at least more willing to be forthright, than the Beltway Insider hacks in regard to who the Real McCain is. The best, of course, is Amy Silverman at Phoenix's New Times, a one-women antidote to Boderism. But you don't always have to go all the way to Arizona to find the truth about McCain. Today's Boston Globe published an article by Susan Milligan questioning McCain's "commitment" to public financing and the false media talking point that he is a reformer.
Senator John McCain has retreated from his longtime commitment to public financing of campaigns since he started planning his 2008 bid for the presidency, according to nonpartisan advocates who had hoped McCain would be a strong voice for reform during the most expensive presidential campaign in history.

McCain, who angered conservatives when he coauthored a bipartisan law aimed at taking big money out of politics, in 2003 cosponsored legislation to expand the federal matching system to help fund presidential campaigns, but failed to add his name to similar measures in 2006 and 2007. And while McCain once supported a law in his home state of Arizona providing full public financing of campaigns, he now says he opposes that idea at the federal level.

One theme that has never changed in McCain's career: rules are for other people, not for John W. McCain.

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At 11:12 AM, Blogger Marc McDonald said...

It seems to me that, at least since Reagan, the MSM has always favored the GOP presidential candidates.

They sure as hell did with Bush in 2000. They gave Bush a free ride on one idiotic and dishonest comment after another on the campaign trail (even as they were inventing "controversies" to smear Gore, like "I invented the Internet").

I expect this kid glove treatment will continue with the MSM's fawning over McCain.

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Because the (formerly great) WaPo sucks, that's why. Duh.

After Watergate, the scumpublicans were furious and vowed to take over the WaPo. Obviously, they succeeded.

I'm convinced that it was that success that motivated them to attempt to take over ALL US media, which they have pretty much accomplished too.

Without the fawning support of our "press", we would never have been stuck with the likes of Reagan, Bush, and Bush.

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