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Friday, January 5, 2007
Straight talk express?
John McCain is showing up on the radar again, which can't be an accident when a guy's got an army of PR reps and consultants, presumably. This morning he was on Don Imus's show on WFAN in New York (syndicated elsewhere), showing off by reviewing Hemingway novels -- "'For Whom the Bell Tolls' is not one of his best..." -- and recounting the plots of war movies. (Say what you will about Imus; he gets people to more or less be themselves, or at least to make comments that are in some small or large way revealing. Once he had the sportscaster Jim Nance on the show and told him he didn't "bring much to the table" on the air, which Nance tried to parry with a joke but soon raised his voice in a very non-showbiz way.)
But the truly revealing recent bit regarding McCain is a new profile by ex-Times reporter Todd Purdum in Vanity Fair, as Ezra Klein points out. In it McCain reveals that he's not quite genuine all the time, that, for instance, he makes little showy announcements designed to flag to reporters a canned statement he doesn't really support.
That's not news per se for a politician. However: 1) as Klein says, it's the fact that he's admitting it that is remarkable, and 2) this is the man who built his political life on being genuine, who called his campaign bus The Straight Talk Express. I suppose we could congratulate him for talking straight to Purdum, but that's a little late for those who reported straight his sham press conferences. Is this a preview of McCain 2008?