Post-McCain “Announcement Tour” Thoughts

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Some advice from a first-time campaign correspondent: Never leave your computer on the charter. Also, invest in a broadband access card. My limited posts from my limited time on the Straight Talk Express are due mostly to lack of internet access and in part to the almost complete lack of news.

I don’t have much to add to the traditional McCain narrative. He’s impossible not to like on a person-to-person level, and, unlike most politicians, he’ll talk to you on that level. He will sit with reporters until they literally have no questions left to ask. And then some. A fellow journalist on the plane to Iowa noted than he’d gotten more face time with the Senator on this one trip than he had with Cheney during the entire 2004 campaign.

In the past, this tremendous access bred a certain amount of protectiveness among some journalists — you don’t want to play “gotcha” with someone who gives all the time. The dynamic on this campaign is slightly different, and the coverage — including mine — shows it. Those new to covering him want to prove they won’t fall for the old guy’s charm. Those who covered him in 2000 want to prove they never did. Congratulations, blogosphere!

Yet no one wants to admit they fell for a dope, and so we’ll see the raft of “tarnished hero” pieces continue, holding McCain up as a tragic figure, wrong but well-meaning, a man ill-served by those he swore allegiance to. The Post produced a template for these types of stories in its op-ed pages yesterday:

He did not shrink from the issue in his announcement, admitting the war “has not gone well” and referring to it in appropriately cautionary terms…. Whatever your position on the war, then or now, Mr. McCain deserves credit for foresight and consistency about how the war should have been waged.

Of course, that and shouting “slam dunk” will get you a Medal of Freedom.

Lucky for McCain, the press corps doesn’t hold its primary ’til March.