In the Arena

Plane Talk

  • Share
  • Read Later

Yes, yes, I’ve been banned from McCain’s plane, though I don’t consider it a big deal, which is why I haven’t written about it. I can attend the McCain and Barracuda rallies, as I did last week. I can talk to McCain staffers–the less rabid sorts, at least, who are still willing to argue things out.

I do have an objection, though, to some of the things I’ve seen written about my Time colleagues on comments threads here and in the blogosphere. My job is different from Jay Carney’s, Michael Sherer’s and Mark Halperin’s. They are paid to report and, to a certain extent, analyze. They operate under real, and valuable, journalistic restrictions. Their jobs are especially tough when covering a campaign as despicable as McCain’s has been: an important part of their brief is to try to see the race through the eyes of the McCain campaign and explain to the rest of us what that looks like. For what it’s worth, I think they’ve been doing a great job. I’m proud to be their colleague.

My job is different. I’m paid to have opinions. You know that because you’ve disagreed–vehemently–with my opinions in the past and will, no doubt, again in the future. (Yes, I’m still in favor of the FISA bill.) My part of the agreement is that I reach my conclusions honestly, after reporting the situation as well as I can (including talking to people on both sides of the issue), without distorting the facts. I’ve been pretty harsh in my treatment of John McCain this year, and his campaign has every right to keep me off their plane. Next year, you may find me writing whole columns about McCain’s courage on immigration…or some other issue, although I think the verdict of history is in on the guy and I believe his behavior should not be forgotten: he has run a dishonorable campaign. Next year, too, you may find me disagreeing with Obama about this or that. You may want to kick me off your plane.

I understand that and don’t mind it, as long as we keep things civil. McCain hasn’t kept things civil this year, and he has taken dangerous and foolish positions on a great many issues, which is why I’ve been on his case. And will stay on his case, flying commercial.