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John McCain's "Disappointing" Response

March 3, 2008

Imagine if a front-page article smearing your good name appeared in one of the biggest newspapers in the country. In place of proof, the newspaper substituted rumor and innuendo supplied by anonymous sources to support the outrageous allegation that you may have been unfaithful to your spouse and may have shamed the profession in which you have spent a lifetime building a reputation. Can you imagine what your reaction to such character assassination would be?

I can. It would be similar to that of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when the leftist partisans on the Senate Judiciary Committee trumped up lies about his personal conduct with former aide Anita Hill.

Thomas called the 1991 Senate proceedings "the high-tech lynching of an uppity black man who dared to think for himself." He adamantly denied the mendacities of his sworn political enemies and fought back with the indignation of a good man outraged at having to defend his honor against the most degrading and outrageous of charges.

But John McCain, who was similarly smeared on the front page of The New York Times, said he was "disappointed." I'm not kidding. If you missed McCain's underwhelming press conference, he actually used that term.

"I was disappointed in The New York Times for running this story," McCain said in mundane tones with his wife, Cindy, at his side.

Disappointed? As a caller to Rush Limbaugh's radio program pointed out last week, "disappointed" is a lover's word. It indicates an emotional frustration based on having been let down by someone you care about. As in: "I was 'disappointed' that my lover didn't return my phone calls." Or "I was disappointed when my friend failed to notice my new shoes."

Disappointed? How about "outraged?" How about "fuming?" If the charges are untrue, then how about "irate," "incensed," or "infuriated?" So many wonderfully colorful and descriptive terms leap to mind. Action terms! Not passive terms like "disappointed."

For a hotheaded pol known for confrontational speech directed at his colleagues on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and who is especially willing to denounce his fellow Republicans when they disagree with him, McCain seemed far too subdued when expressing his "disappointment" with The Times. One can only infer that he is more comfortable attacking conservatives within his own party than with picking fights with liberals.

John McCain has been the darling of the mainstream media for so long that he has come to believe they really love him. When he ran for president in 2000, he invited them onto his bus, the "Straight-Talk Express." He granted them unlimited access to the inner workings of his campaign. He was the anti-Bush, and they loved him for it.

What McCain never understood, because he never made it past the primaries, is that the Republican nominee is always vilified by the press. It is an unwritten rule for them: support the most liberal Republican in the primaries, and then turn on him if he gets the nomination of his party. Apparently, John McCain has been laboring under the delusion that he was different.

Now that he is the presumptive GOP nominee, he is learning otherwise. McCain is now experiencing what every Republican presidential standard-bearer has known for the last 50 years: the left-wing national media hates him and will do anything to undermine his candidacy.

At his press conference, McCain seemed almost shell-shocked, as if an old friend had suddenly punched him in the stomach. How could The Old Gray Lady, who just a month earlier had endorsed him as one of the two most competent people in the country to be the next president of the United States, do this to him?

Well, welcome to the real world of presidential politics, Senator. It's time to wake up and realize that the mainstream media never were your friends, and that a lot of people are counting on you to defend this nation from the disaster of a Hillary Clinton or a Barack Obama presidency.

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Copyright ©2008 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.