The McCain Mutiny begins!greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
-- Charles Underwood Farley (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 29, 2000
-- Links R Us (*@*.*), February 29, 2000.
McCain's on a Joy Ride With the Boys on the Bus
By GEORGE SKELTON
SACRAMENTO--It's 7:15 a.m. when Sen. John McCain climbs onto his campaign bus, the "Straight Talk Express." He fills a paper cup with coffee, walks past the doughnuts and heads to the rear, where 10 California reporters await him in a horseshoe. He takes a middle seat. "I enjoyed my hours of sleep last night enormously," McCain says dryly. "Both of them." The presidential candidate's chartered plane had gotten stuck in the mud off a Bremerton, Wash., tarmac, delaying his flight here by four hours. He didn't get to the hotel until 3 a.m. Now, it's a 45-minute ride through crawling commute traffic to a town hall meeting at Cal State Sacramento. So why isn't he relaxing alone? What's he doing in the back of the bus with a bunch of pushy reporters? "Waiting for the opportunity to say something stupid in the next 45 minutes," he replies. Actually, it's his everyday MO--what the candidate does virtually nonstop, except for an afternoon nap, as he travels from event to event. In this, McCain is unique among presidential candidates, past or present. Most candidates guard their space. Only occasionally during the day will they briefly venture near the traveling news media to banter and perhaps answer a serious question or two. McCain talks with reporters for four or five hours on the bus and spends additional hours answering their questions after campaign events, according to Times staff writer T. Christian Miller, who has been covering the unorthodox maverick. "I'm boggled about when he does his strategy." That's a problem, says McCain advisor Ken Khachigian. "I've complained he has no time to strategize and think. He's got reporters sitting there all the time asking anything they want to. He's totally exposed." * * * McCain thinks being accessible to reporters is good strategy. "It helps me to get my point of view out, my philosophy," the Arizonan explains. "Look, the media have a job to do--that is to report a campaign. If they are around a candidate, then they can report the candidate. "And I enjoy it. I apologize for enjoying being around a group of Communists and Trotskyites." McCain is sensitive to his adversaries' moaning that he is the darling of the news media. If he is the candidate of "the liberal media," right-wingers insist, he certainly cannot be a true conservative. "It's a very clever campaign some people are waging," McCain says. "I tell ya, every time I've screwed up and I deserved it, I got it [in the media]. When I don't screw up, I don't get it." The anti-abortion candidate got it when he told reporters last month that if his 15-year-old daughter were pregnant, the "final decision" about an abortion would be hers. After leaving the bus, he "clarified" his statement: It would be a family decision. Both statements were reported and he pleased nobody. The former POW more recently got it after referring on the bus to his North Vietnamese captors--"a small group of sadists and murderers"--as "gooks." The epithet drew criticism from some Asian Americans and he later apologized to anybody who was offended. "But I think it's really stupid," McCain comments as the Sacramento bus trip ends, apparently alluding to the flap. What's stupid? he's asked. He'll go no further. "Nothing's stupid. Me. I'm stupid. Just as I'm pulling up [to get off the bus], too. I'm stupid." * * * No, not stupid. Being open earns McCain "good press" on balance. (Conversely, he'll likely get "bad press" after pulling out of a Times/CNN campaign debate slated for Thursday. His staff cited the old dodge, "scheduling conflicts.") Reporters tend to respond favorably to a candidate who doesn't cower behind sterile prepared statements, who is accessible and spontaneous. They see self-confidence. But what reporters mostly see in McCain--and what will attract them to anybody--is a great story. Journalists are storytellers. And stories don't get much more compelling than McCain's. There's the character story: Navy fighter pilot, son and grandson of admirals, is shot down over Hanoi. His limbs are broken and he's tortured. He's offered release to embarrass his father, but rejects it; that would violate the POW Code of Conduct. So he spends 5 1/2 years in hell. Then there's the current combat story: Feisty, outspent underdog challenges the establishment-anointed Republican prince in an exciting duel, perhaps a nomination fight for the ages. Reporters may like and admire McCain. Most probably don't subscribe to his conservatism. But that's all secondary to the story. McCain understands this better than most politicians. It's why he's willing to make the storytelling a little easier and suffer reporters on two hours' sleep.
-- Vern (email@example.com), February 29, 2000.
You left out the part about how he got into Annapolis, graduated *fifth from the bottom* of his class and still got into Naval Aviation. Normally the guys in the bottom tenth of the graduating class get assignments like "Naval supply oficer in Amchitka, Alaska". But "Honest John" asked for and got a coveted slot in flight school.
You don't think he got preferrential treatment because his dad and grand-dad were pulling strings for him, do you?
Character story indeed! We need a character like this guy running the country like we need four more years of the character we've got now.
-- Wildweasel (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 29, 2000.
Good, Vern. Respond to the news that his own S.C. campaign manager quit because he felt the attacks on Bob Jones U. were unfair misrepresentations by reminding us that he has good rapport with the media and, oh yes, don't forget that he spent all those years as a P.O.W.
-- Markus Archus (email@example.com), February 29, 2000.
It is suspect that McCain is the media favorite for now---if he wins the Republican nomination, the same media would support Gore. So what's the deal? Does the media think that McCain would be easier to beat than Bush in the general election? I like McCain but would vote for Bush over Gore in a NY minute.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 29, 2000.
Wow, what an injustice. He applied for and undeservedly got one of those plum flight school appointments that led directly to his flying in some of the most dangerous airspace since WWII. What a crappy, elitist trick to pull. Damn you John McCain for risking your life for our country and damn you again for acting like a man during your captivity. As for Dubya, he'd make a great county comissioner but that's about it. Haven't you folks noticed yet--He's a DOPE.
-- Blew5MM (email@example.com), February 29, 2000.
Yeah, McCrank acted like a man during his captivity. A Man About Town.
That's why the other POWs wanted to rip his arms off, and REFUSED to even fly on the same plane as the L-O-S-E-R during their return to the US.
-- Charles Underwood Farley (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 29, 2000.
Wildweasel.....Wild Weasel driver?
-- JB (email@example.com), February 29, 2000.