February 22, 2008
The talk-radio and “conservative movement” Right hates the New York Times much more than it hates John McCain, and the paper’s recent dubious reporting on the senator’s alleged shenanigans with an attractive young lobbyist, and its re-opening of the “Keating Five” scandal, might ensure that McCain’s erstwhile critics will rally to his side.
As evidenced by my earlier posts, and my article in the latest TAC (not yet online), I”ve attempted the most sympathetic of critical readings of the anti-McCain rebellion brewing among Rush, Coulter, Mark Levin, and many at NR. Yes, these people usually roll over and start begging whenever a candidate mentions “national security” or the “transcendent challenge”; yes, they might very well forget their legitimate criticism of McCain and get lost in Hillary-hate (whether the lady is nominated or not). Still, most of their criticisms of McCain were legitimate”Coulter’s mention that Hillary would be a better terror warrior than Mac was fascinating”and the whole thing seemed to offer a glimmer of hope that the conservative movement might become just a little bit more than a war party. At the very least, they had some good people urging them on.
This now seems like wishful thinking.
The Times deserves to come under some heat: reporting that a few of McCain’s aides thought that, perhaps, the senator was having an affair (or at least his friendship with a lobbyist looked bad) is lacking in substance; Bob Bennett’s exculpation of McCain greatly weakens the “Keating Five” allegations; moreover, the Times major motivation for running the piece seems to have been The New Republic‘s article about the suppression of the McCain hit-piece by the Times executive editor, Bill Keller (which TNR decided to release online the same afternoon).
More importantly, just as the Times endorsement of McCain right before Florida feed the “We hate McCain, let’s pretend Mitt is conservative” movement, so will this latest piece likely spark a great reconciliation. On Thursday, Rush mentioned that McCain “didn”t know who his friends are” and that he was mistaken to think that they were amongst the “drive-by media.” He didn”t complete the thought, but he seemed to be implying that the talk-radio Right is willing to become more amicable. The editorial sins of Bill Keller will also create for GOP voters an image of McCain as a good conservative under fire from the evil secular humanist media and inspire them to defend McCain as one of their own. (The real situation is of course a little more complicated.) Joe Lieberman even joined Sean Hannity on air to attack the “once great paper,” indicating that the scandal might also re-unify the Republican and Democratic interventionists who were briefly split over the McCain nomination.
Who needs the war the terror? Times bashing will work just fine to bring together the GOP coalition once again.