Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"McCain's Last Ally"

It isn't much of a secret that John McCain has always enjoyed excellent relations with the national media. McCain once referred to the media as 'My base', and he wasn't joking.
It was important that McCain nurture a good relationship with the media because he is hated by most of his senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle. He's also hated by most members of the Bush administration. And he's hated by the Republican base of volunteers and activists. No politician can be very effective if everyone they have to work with actively hates their guts. But John McCain found a way to work around that by making sure that he got glowing media coverage. It wasn't enough to win him the nomination in 2000, but it was enough for him to win a few primaries and make himself into a household name. John McCain, the Maverick.

Now, I see that McCain and Palin are going to make war on the national media a central part of tonight's speech and of the fall campaign. And I see that Al Giordano is wringing his hands about the potential effectiveness of this strategy. For once I get to tell Al that he is being a chicken little. Giordano makes many excellent points in his post, but what he is neglecting to consider is that John McCain is literally nothing without his entourage of sycophants in the national media.

With even party loyalists and personal friends like Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy blasting his choice of vice-president, McCain can forget about a message advantage (or even parity). And making war on the press will turn them into even harsher critics. Giordano is correct that people hate and distrust the media, but they are nonetheless heavily influenced by them. Republicans are masters at gaming the national dialogue in their favor. But, in order to do that, they rely on the media to parrot their talking points and repeat their lies and distortions without correction or skepticism.

John McCain has ceded his two biggest advantages in this race in two short weeks.

First he tossed aside the experience argument when he selected a running mate with no experience. Then he declared war on the only institution in the country that doesn't hate his guts. There is nothing to worry about, Al. McCain just shot his last ally.



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