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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Did She Polish His Halo?

Rough day for Saint John. The defensive press conference with wife-in-tow cannot be a pleasant experience, and I felt a bit sorry for the man. Maybe he can commiserate with David Vitter and Larry Craig. Despite all his panders to the GOP wackadoos over Iraq, taxes, and now even torture, I can't help but see McCain as a man of basic decency and honor--one who seems to be cracking under the strain of having mortgaged his soul for a shot at glory. (Shhh, don't tell the FEC what he used as collateral!) He has not looked well, and today he looked awful. Also, not very convincing. I don't know that he had this affair (the others, during wife #1, that's "old news"), but he certainly sounded as if he were feeling guilty about something.

When in doubt, attack. Ignore that Drudge leaked this months ago when it might have merely elevated another winger to the nomination; the NYT did it today when the nomination was basically decided. This means war. The Post ran the story too? Who dey? And now Rush is calling for Saint John to come home and realize who his true friends and true enemies are. That's right, Johnny Mac, your enemies are the ones who officially endorsed you even after they had seen this story, and your friends are the ones who spent months trying to destroy you while speculating on your "anal poisoning" of Lindsey Graham.

An upside: the news coverage of this story has been highly entertaining. If Chris Matthews gets any angrier at the Times, he may pop a vessel. With his best boy Rudy out, he's only got one more man crush in the game. Gotta circle the wagons. Not to defend the Times. It is too early to know if they've really got a story here, but the early evidence is a tad weak. Strong enough to use against a Democrat. But against a Republican? What media universe have these guys been living in? I noticed that no one on Hardball bothered to bring up the Clinton precedent. I'm sure they were all tut-tutting those allegations back in the day, hoping desperately that the media would just let the Big Dog sniff.

The hard core denial strategy is a huge risk. Any slip and you're toast, and Mac doesn't exactly have a big margin of error to begin with. I'd also hate to see the saintly one brought down by something like this. Partly, I don't like this kind of takedown, at least not when it's aimed at someone without a flagrant record of sexual hypocrisy. Partly, because I think we're going to win this race big anyway, behind Obama, and I don't want to muddy the mandate water. If McCain loses, it will be thanks to Bush. Let's not lose that narrative.


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