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Mccain's Blurry Persona


I guess I just don't understand news journalism. Today's New York Times has a story about John McCain's failing attempt to recapture the spirit of his 2000 run. Yesterday's Washington Post had a similar story. Both are good reads with plenty of interesting insights.

But neither of them come anywhere close to addressing the fundamental question. The stories tell you that McCain is trying to get in the good graces of the GOP base, but that some still distrust him, and many of his independent fans from eight years ago have abandoned him. They also feature McCain and his aides insisting that they haven't changed a thing about his political philosophy.

What they don't do is make any attempt to address the validity of these claims. I'm not claiming to be any sort of journalistic role model, but my TRB column does at least quickly run through many of the ways McCain veered sharply left during and after the 2000 race, and some of the ways he veered back to the right starting in 2004. These are the basic facts you need to understand why conservatives still distrust him and why his claims of utter consistency aren't true.

Instead it's all left vague. We are informed that there is "a sense among some Republicans that [McCain's] campaign had faltered in the early going and that his political identity had been blurred rather than enhanced by his efforts to position himself as first in line for the nomination." Why has McCain's public identity been blurred? Should it have been blurred? Neither story makes much of an effort to answer this question, and I wonder if either the Times or the Post is ever going to try.

--Jonathan Chait

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