You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ …

September 2, 2008 11:15 a.m.

I think TPM Reader JL may be on to something …

Just a thought, and I doubt I’m the first to think it. Watching that surprising video of Cambell Brown taking Tucker Bounds to the cleaners’, I wondered if perhaps what I was really seeing was a mainstream press that is furious with McCain for having embarrassed them. Even if Palin drops out by the end of the week, and Pawlenty or Romney or whomever gets on board and we begin take two of the entire thing, I can’t imagine that the press will have retained their abiding love of McCain. After all, they’re the ones who nurtured his straight-talkin’-maverick image, and now he has appeared to throw it in their faces. They probably had reporting packages ready to go for all of the other VP possibilities, and nothing for Palin. So it wasn’t just the GOP brass McCain was flipping off with this pick–it was his “base,” the media. My overall sense of yesterday’s coverage was that covering him just wasn’t any fun anymore. And those feelings might well last into November.

I think the reason may be slightly different. A lot of Washington reporters have spent a decade loving John McCain. Just a few days ago a friend of mine who was once among the courted explained to me just how different and successful McCain was in the courtship. Off the cuff, frank, entirely accessible. Because of all that, a lot of these people got heavily invested in the maverick and straight-talker image. I’ll be honest: back in 2000 and probably until 2002 I was pretty invested in it. Why a lot of people have held on through the last half dozen years of contrary evidence is another question. But the Palin pick is that paradigm-breaking piece of evidence that takes you from ‘maverick’ to ‘reckless’ or worse. And claiming that Palin has ‘military command’ experience as head of the Alaska National Guard gets you from “straight talker’ to ‘bullshit artist’.

I think you get a feel for the breakdown in this exchange between CNN’s Campbell Brown and McCain’s Tucker Bounds last night on CNN …

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