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The end of the affair

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Shorter Elizabeth Drew:

Me and John McCain
We had a thing
Goin’ on

Drew becomes the latest in the increasingly long line of journalists to walk out on the news media’s longest-running illicit love affair.

And given how long the affair lasted, it’s not surprised that amid all the hurt and betrayal a lot of confusion about exactly what happened remains.

Drew, who wrote a fulsome book-length tribute to McCain in 2002, now more than suspects that, in the end, she and her colleagues were simply being used all along:

While McCain’s movement to the center was widely popular (if not on the right) – and he even flirted with becoming a Democrat – there’s now strong reason to question whether it was anything but a temporary, expedient tactic. (In his 2002 memoir, “Worth the Fighting For,” he wrote, revealingly, “I didn’t decide to run
for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president. . . . In truth, I’d had the ambition for a long time.”) When he decided to run for president in 2008, he felt he couldn’t win without the support of the right, so he adapted. In retrospect, other once-hailed McCain efforts – his cultivation of the press (“my base”) and even his fight for campaign finance reform (launched in the wake of his embarrassment over the Keating Five scandal) now seem to have been simply maneuvers. The “Straight Talk Express” – a brilliant p.r. stroke in 2000 – has now been shut down.

But, having looked the whole sordid business in the face, Drew can’t quite bear to consider that there wasn’t a time when things were different, and the Dreamboat Maverick-turned-Unprincipled Scumbug really was different than all the rest, if only just a little:

McCain’s caving in to this “compromise” [on the anti-torture
legislation] did it for me. This was further evidence that the former free-spirited, supposedly principled, maverick was morphing into just another panderer – to Bush and the Republican Party’s conservative base.

Even in the course of a single sentence, she can’t make up her mind regarding whether those sweet mavericky nothings he used to whisper were never more than a calculated pose, and indeed the most disingenuous of all: since being “candid” and “straight-shooting” primarily because — and therefore only so long as — it’s an effective political tactic is actually more reprehensible than good old fashioned honest lying.

Ah, you should have changed that stupid lock . . .

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