The real McCain
He gave an impromptu press conference, bantering gamely with reporters. When that was done, aides tried to drag him away, but McCain raced across the room and sought out a local reporter to clarify an answer he had given. The journalist, unused to such personal attention from a potential president, looked like a spellbound deer in the headlights as McCain spoke to him for a further 10 minutes. The fact is, McCain loves journalists and they love him back. That is how the myth of the moderate maverick – the most powerful tool in his political armoury – has come to be.
Nothing has changed since that moment in Hartford. McCain’s campaign bus – dubbed the Straight Talk Express, just as it was in 2000 – is filled with journalists who travel at the back with McCain, relaxing on a U-shaped couch. McCain recently hosted a barbecue for journalists at his Arizona ranch. As TV anchors and newspaper reporters sipped beer and cocktails under a desert sun, McCain stood at the grill and literally served up their daily nourishment. He is someone you could have a beer with, in stark contrast to Barack Obama, who keeps his press entourage firmly at arm’s length. Yet McCain’s riskier strategy has worked like a dream. Reporters often overlook McCain’s errors and flaps – especially in national security – clinging instead to the narrative of an unconventional patriot. ‘The media love him, especially his war record. He is the GI Joe doll they played with as kids,’ says Professor Shawn Bowler, a political scientist at the University of California at Riverside.
I could have linked worse.
And the media girls go do ta do ta do ta do do do.