By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Ditching the Straight Talk Express

Longtime John McCain admirer Richard Cohen has written a stunning column in the Washington Post about his disillusionment with the erstwhile conductor of the Straight Talk Express. (Via Talking Points Memo.) After excoriating McCain for his profligate lying, Cohen says:

I am one of the journalists accused over the years of being in the tank for McCain. Guilty. Those doing the accusing usually attributed my feelings to McCain being accessible. This is the journalist-as-puppy school of thought: Give us a treat, and we will leap into a politician’s lap.

Not so. What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord. He expressed his message in words, but he packaged it in the McCain story — that man, beaten to a pulp, who chose honor over freedom. This had nothing to do with access. It had to do with integrity.

McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir — the person in whose hands he would leave the country — is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.

This is remarkable stuff. I’m not sure we’ll see a tougher indictment of McCain for the rest of the campaign.

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  1. Steve

    Did McCain just say he invented the BlackBerry?That guy will say absolutely anything to get his hands on the presidency.

  2. Ani

    Here’s an idea that may not go anywhere, but after laughing over the comment that Palin killed a Bigfoot, I got to thinking about what makes that comment work, and it resonated for me with what I’ve been reading about Cindy McCain in The New Yorker (no, not that she too has killed a Bigfoot) — but this type of rugged frontier can-do woman. So, it got me thinking about what it would say about McCain’s decision-making if there’s anything to drawing parallels between the two.

  3. Sean Roche

    Yes, in its way it’s an indictment of McCain. But, it’s a far greater indictment of Cohen that he remained “in the tank for McCain” for so long. Honor? Integrity? The evidence has been out there for a long time that McCain was no more honorable than the next guy, and maybe less so.Cheated on his handicap wife then left her for a young heiress.Implicated in the Keating 5 scandal.Called Falwell an agent of intolerance, then two years later checked his integrity and honor at the campus gates.Threw his immigration plan under the bus as soon as he saw it was going to mess up his presidential aspirations.Implied that Obama was a traitor.All this before Sarah Palin was a last-minute, unvetted, sop to the base.Does this make McCain an exceptionally bad person or politician? Probably not. But, it makes Richard Cohen an exceptionally bad journalist for continuing to buy the McCain/Honor/Integrity hype.

  4. O-FISH-L

    “Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president.”Only problem, she’s not running for president. OTOH, Obama, no matter what his other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president, the office he is seeking.Conservatives have taken Mr. Cohen with a grain of salt ever since his claim that, “The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake.” McCain should be grateful to have “lost” the support of this guy.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    And here is how Cohen concludes that column:Much of the Islamic world, notably Iran under its Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, … refus[es] to make even a little space for the Jews of Europe and, later, those from the Islamic world. They see Israel not as a mistake but as a crime. Until they change their view, the longest war of the 20th century will persist deep into the 21st. It is best for Israel to hunker down.Context, Fish. Context. It’s like accusing me of taking the story about Palin’s tanning bed seriously. (Which I don’t think you did, but I digress.)

  6. mike_b1

    Fish, Palin is in effect running for president. And you know it.And the Straight Talk Express is now answering her questions for her. Get ready for four more years of higher spending on a useless war, financial meltdowns across the country and, oh, massive job losses.Brilliant!

  7. acf

    The only problem is that Veep candidates are sold as being a heartbeat away from the presidency, and ready to take over.

  8. Doug Shugarts

    Jon Stewart had the best line a couple years ago:The Straight Talk Express has become the Bus to Bullshit Town.

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