Joe McCain, the candidate’s brother, wants to fire the campaign’s management because they have kept McCain, and those around him, under wraps, isolated from the media:
Joe is particularly critical of top campaign officials (unnamed) who “so tightly ‘control the message'” that they have cut the press off from those who know the candidate best (presumably including his brother). Joe McCain, who notes that he once was a reporter and has worked in campaign press shops, calls these news-management efforts “counter-intuitive, counter-experiential, and counter-productive.”
Joe goes on to say that the decision to clamp down on press contact with intimates of the Arizona senator is “causing gangrene. It has gradually bled away all the good will that this great man had from the press, for he alone among politicians would talk to them openly, without finesse, without guile.”
Reporters, he notes, once returned the affection “regardless of their political lean . . . they loved him nonetheless.”
Joe–who did not respond immediately to a request for further comment–urges the campaign to allow him and others to talk to reporters about “the John McCain we know. Some reporters will get it wrong, most will not get it perfectly, but almost all will appreciate the reopening of the gates of information and reward us for it.”
Joe says he and others “were muzzled by those (running the campaign) without the understanding that you cannot control the media by keeping them from information, but you can lose all their good will.”
Not this year, Joe. John McCain never had a chance with this version of the press.
Certainly, in 2000 when he was “Luke Skywalker coming out of the Death Star,” taking on the Republican establishment, they loved John McCain. He was the anti-Republican, to them, at least for the early GOP Primary. Had McCain somehow won the party’s nomination and gone on to face the Democrat nominee, either John Kerry or Howard Dean (YEAAARRRRGH!) in our alternate universe, the media would have dropped McCain like hot bricks.
This year, John McCain never had a chance with the media. Obama’s ideology – uncertain, possibly progressive, and insubstantial, with alternating promises – is the perfect fit, unfortunately, with today’s media, with its predilection for political flightiness.
Joe McCain is frustrated and wants his brother to win. He obviously thinks that, on the merits, his brother should be winning, and this is correct. There is nothing to recommend Obama but the back story he wrote in his two novels, the historic nature of an Obama victory (which has nothing to do with his qualifications), and the “D” on his lapel if you lean to the lefty persuasion. The press, for the most part, like good stories and lean to the left, so Obama is their man. An straight-talking war Navy pilot with a back story lauded by people who love America is cannot touch that.
Should Steve Schmidt and friend have allowed McCain to open up to the media. Intuitively, it would seem so, but we are not running this campaign. I know that John McCain reached the national position he had in large part because of his straight talk. That willingness was what separated him from so many other politicos, include Barack Obama. You don’t strip that for a campaign.
Three weeks is a long time, but it has to begin Wednesday night. John McCain has to clearly win the evening on Wednesday in such a way that the Obama-enthralled media will report it that way. That will give him a push, and with that he has to run. Schmidt could open him up to the press at that point, and we might call the guy brilliant for holding back until the right moment.
By my estimation, McCain has to be winning or close to the margins in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, etc. on Election Day; Sarah “GOTV” Palin will take care of the rest.