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Media To Mccain: "do I Know You?"

Once upon a time, John McCain flattered political reporters for "intellectually stimulating" him--and political reporters returned the compliment by writing largely flattering things about McCain. But now the first half of that equation appears to be, uh, inoperative. Check out this snippet of an interview Time did with a, as the magazine describes him, "prickly" McCain:

There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both
about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could
define honor for us?
Read it in my books.

I've read your books.
No, I'm not going to define it.

But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.

[Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?
I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.

But beyond the press, sir, just in terms of ...
I think we're running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.

Do you miss the old way of
doing it?
I don't know what you're talking about.

Really? Come on, Senator.
I'll provide as much access as possible ...

In 2000, after the primaries, you went back to South Carolina to
talk about what you felt was a mistake you had made on the Confederate
flag. Is there anything so far about this campaign that you wish you
could take back or you might revisit when it's over?
[Does not answer.]

Do I know you? [Says with a laugh.]
[Long pause.] I'm very happy with the way our campaign has been
conducted, and I am very pleased and humbled to have the nomination of
the Republican Party.

You do acknowledge there
was a change in the
campaign, in the way you
had run the campaign?
[Shakes his head.]

You don't acknowledge that? O.K., when your aides came to you and
you decided, having been attacked by Barack Obama, to run some of those
ads, was there a debate?
The campaign responded as planned.

I think my favorite part of that interview is the Time reporter's beseeching question, "Do I know you?" We've already seen, in John Kerry's case, what can happen when McCain disappoints an old friend. Are we about to see the same thing with the media?

--Jason Zengerle

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