March 24, 2008

Did the Times Just Argue What I Think It Just Argued?

Hatched by Dafydd

A triumphant "gotcha" story in today's New York Times:

Senator John McCain never fails to call himself a conservative Republican as he campaigns as his party’s presumptive presidential nominee. He often adds that he was a “foot soldier” in the Reagan revolution and that he believes in the bedrock conservative principles of small government, low taxes and the rights of the unborn. [None of which even the reddest of conservatives denies, by the way.]

What Mr. McCain almost never mentions are two extraordinary moments in his political past that are at odds with the candidate of the present: His discussions in 2001 with Democrats about leaving the Republican Party, and his conversations in 2004 with Senator John Kerry about becoming Mr. Kerry’s running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket.

First of all, the story itself is a big, fat nothing: Both sides agree that John McCain himself was never the prime mover; the Democrats say it was a McCain staffer, all the McCain staffers say the Democrats made the first approach both times, while both sides agree that the Democrats persistently courted (or hounded) him. (Both also agree that McCain said No both times.)

But the fascinating part of this story, and one I doubt the Times intended to convey (oh what a tangled web they weave...!) is the desperation on the part of Democrats to get hold of John McCain. They were frantic, even by their own recounting; here is the Democratic version of the time they tried to get McCain to switch parties:

Democrats were stunned one Saturday in late March when, by their account, John Weaver, Mr. McCain’s longtime political strategist, reached out to Thomas J. Downey, a former Democratic congressman from Long Island who had become a lobbyist with powerful connections on Capitol Hill. In Mr. Downey’s telling, Mr. Weaver posed a question to him over lunch that left him stunned.

“He says, ‘John McCain is wondering why nobody’s ever approached him about switching parties, or becoming an independent and allying himself with the Democrats,’ ” Mr. Downey said in a recent interview. “My reaction was, ‘When I leave this lunch, your boss will be called by anybody you want him to be called by in the United States Senate.’ ”

Mr. Weaver recalls the conversation differently. He said that Mr. Downey had told him that Democrats, eager to find a Republican who would switch sides and give them control of the evenly divided Senate, had approached some Republican senators about making the jump. “I stated they couldn’t be so desperate as they hadn’t reached out to McCain,” Mr. Weaver said in an e-mail message last week.

Whatever transpired, Mr. Downey raced home and immediately called Mr. Daschle. It was the first step in what became weeks of conversations that April between Mr. McCain and the leading Democrats, among them Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and John Edwards, then a senator from North Carolina, about the possibility of Mr. McCain’s leaving his party.

Downey sounds like he ran home with his hair on fire, told Daschle, and then Daschle, Kennedy, Edwards, and goodness knows who else called and called and called, begging McCain to come over to the dark side. Heavens, but they must have a level of respect for John McCain bordering on reverence!

The John Kerry story is even more of a stunner:

But less than three years later, Mr. McCain was once again in talks with the Democrats, this time over whether he would be Mr. Kerry’s running mate. In an interview with a blog last year, Mr. Kerry said that the initial idea had come from Mr. McCain’s side, as had happened in 2001.

Mr. Kerry, reacting to reports in The Hill newspaper last year about Mr. Weaver’s 2001 approach to Mr. Downey, said he saw a pattern. "It doesn’t surprise me completely because his people similarly approached me to engage in a discussion about his potentially being on the ticket as vice president," Mr. Kerry told Jonathan Singer of, a prominent liberal blog, in remarks that are available in an audio version online and that Mr. Kerry’s staff said last week were accurate. "So his people were active -- let’s put it that way."

Two former Kerry strategists said last week that Mr. Weaver went to Mr. Kerry’s house in Georgetown a short time after Mr. Kerry won the Democratic nomination in March and asked that Mr. Kerry consider Mr. McCain as his running mate. (Mr. Weaver said in his e-mail message that the idea had come from Mr. Kerry.) Whatever the case, both sides say that Mr. Kerry was so enthusiastic about the notion that he relentlessly pursued Mr. McCain, even to the point of offering him a large part of the president’s national security responsibilities.

John Kerry, while publicly portraying himself as the clear favorite against President George W. Bush in 2004, was privately so desperate to get John McCain that, even by his own account, he was willing to peel off the most essential part of the job of President of the United States -- protecting American national security -- and give it (extra-constitutionally) to the vice president. How deferential must have been Kerry's regard for McCain's leadership on national-security issues.

So even the Democrats themselves esteem John McCain far beyond what one would imagine, given how the two Democratic candidates trashtalk McCain morning, noon, and night. And in particular, the last Democratic presidential nominee, who came within 3% of defeating the recumbent GOP president, believed that John McCain was a better military leader than any Democrat Kerry could think of... else why would Kerry have bent over backwards to offer the vice presidency to a Republican?

Somehow I don't think that was the point the New York Times intended to convey.

There is, however, an even deeper level at which this story is staggeringly stupid. Clearly, the Times is trying to alienate conservative Republicans from John McCain: "Well, if Democrats liked him, he must be just awful!"

Leave aside the obvious implication that there is something unsavory about the Democratic Party that should repel voters; forget that this story is old, old news -- as oxymoronic as that phrase must be. We already know that the great majority of the Republican Party has enormous respect for John McCain, because he easily won the nomination -- even when the race dropped down to McCain vs. an economic conservative and a social conservative.

So if, as the Times admits -- heck, as the Times trumpets! -- Democrats also yearn deeply for a man of John McCain's stature among their own ranks, or even just as the running mate to the Democratic candidate... doesn't that mean that McCain, not Barack Obama, is the true crossover candidate who fills both parties with awe?

This story is almost wistful, a melancholy musing on what might have been: If only, I hear the Left say, if only we had a man like John McCain on our side...!

Fortunately for us, we do have a man like McCain on our side. And a laurel and hearty handshake to the Times for reminding us of his transcendent greatness.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 24, 2008, at the time of 6:33 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

There is a webcomic called "The Order of the Stick" details of which are unimportant (but if you ever played D&D, check it out) who's best line yet was when one character told another:

"Your approval fills me with shame."
We're talking the New York Times, here...

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2008 3:10 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

I love how they call it "talks" which is shorthand for some sort of extended negotiations. McCain has said they asked him and he said no, several times and in several different ways.

Liberals have a great many foolish ideas about conservatives.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2008 9:23 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

Is this why the Times was bugging him on the plane a few weeks ago? The "incident" where he appeared to get rather ticked off at a Times reporter who was asking stupid questions? Seems like they have been working on this "story" for awhile.

I think the news process at the Times has become hopelessly fouled up. Most journalists work in the following manner: They keep an ear to the ground, listening for facts and information. Most of the time they just report the facts, but occasionally they get something juicy that might just develop into a full blown scoop.

The Times editors seem to decide ahead of time what their scoop will be first...then assign a bunch of reporters to find information to support it. If the "scoop" turns out not to be relevant, important, or even factually correct, well, they just run with it anyway.

It is the difference between going where the facts lead you, to finding facts that allow you to go where you please.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2008 3:24 PM

The following hissed in response by: Denny

Surely, Obama is NOT a crossover candidate. Unless the Democrats mean 'crossing over to HAMAS!'

Would your “church,” if you fellowship with one, put on it’s bulletin board hateful articles from the anti-semitic, terrorist group Hamas? Barack Obama’s CURRENT church, Trinity United Church of Christ, did just that.

We just found out in the last 48 hours that Wright, while giving a eulogy in 2007, said that “(Jesus’) enemies had their opinion about Him… The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans.”

Now comes a report by NBC News that while Wright was in charge at Obama’s CURRENT church, reprinted anti-Israel writings, including one column by none other than Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzook, appeared on the bulletin board there.

The column by the Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzook, asked: “Why should any Palestinian recognise the monstrous crimes carried out by Israel’s founders and continued by its deformed modern apartheid state?”

The question becomes one of judgment, character, integrity, honesty and intelligence.

If I were to believe Obama’s defense that he didn’t, and still doesn’t, know what was, and still is, going on at his church for 20 years, then, in my opinion, he must not be very observant nor intelligent, and does not possess sensible judgement. Therefore he cannot be qualified to be the POTUS, in my opinion. If I do NOT believe Obama, then his integrity, character and honesty is woefully insufficient to be the POTUS, in my opinion.

Obama went to Harvard Law School (they don’t let just anybody in), where he became the first African-American president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude in 1991. Now do you think he is NOT aware of what his church and ex-pastor are all about? Be AFRAID! Be VERY AFRAID!

Barack Obama’s political FRAUD against the American People continues…

Read the rest of this article here...

The above hissed in response by: Denny [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2008 1:15 PM

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