Thursday, February 21, 2008

Far Right Allies With NYT to Attack McCain

The Politico's story on the far-right's defense of John McCain, who's attacked in a hit piece at today's New York Times, is entitled: "Rush, Right Rally to McCain."

It should really read, "Rush, Right Ally with NYT Against McCain."

This is the moment Rush-bots have been waiting for: While the Politico's piece argues for a conservative rally to McCain amid a clear left-wing media smear against the Arizona Senator, Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have exploited the attack in a classic and juicy "I told you so moment":

Ironically, a potentially damaging article about McCain may help bond him to conservatives, who are relishing the fact that now he needs them.

"Is he going to learn the right lesson from this?” Limbaugh asked. “The lesson is that liberals are to be defeated."

Limbaugh wrote in an e-mail to Politico: “The story is not the story. The story is the drive-by media turning on its favorite maverick and trying to take him out. The media picked the GOP's candidate, the NYT endorsed him while they sat on this story, and is now, with utter predictability, trying to destroy him.”

Limbaugh added: “This is what you get when you walk across the aisle and try to make these people your friends. I'm not surprised in the least that the NYT would try to take out John McCain. Predicted this, in fact, way back in the early 2000s. Sen. McCain courted the media, cultivated them, even bragged that the media was his ‘base.’ I cringed when I heard it because the media turning on McCain was as predictable as the sun rising in the morning.”

Limbaugh was one of several influential conservatives who, to the delight and relief of the McCain campaign, immediately decided that the behavior of the Times — not the senator — should be the issue.

Ingraham began her show this morning with a brief dig at McCain's years of cozying up to the mainstream media, but then declared: “You wait until it’s pretty much beyond a doubt that he’s going to be the Republican nominee, and then you let it drop — drop some acid in the pool, contaminate the whole pool. That’s what The New York Times thinks.”

Ingraham was deriding the front-page article suggesting McCain had a romantic relationship with a telecommunications lobbyist in 1999, when he was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Ingraham was among the conservatives who endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney before he dropped out of the nomination race, and she has been among the high-profile talk show hosts who have been very critical of McCain.

McCain has been jokingly called “the senator from ‘Meet the Press’" because of his cozy relations with the elite media.

Ingraham said triumphantly, “I ask the McCain campaign this question: Do you think you need talk radio now? Do you think that talk radio’s important to set the record straight, or do you think a press conference, where the media is shouting question after question at you — do you think that's going to put an end to all of this?"....

Ingraham read from the article with a mocking tone — even adding “comma” at one point — noting what she considered omissions and fallacies.

“I’m reading through this piece and I’m thinking, Did McCain think that having all these people on the Straight Talk Express — and getting Jonathan Alter and all these guys to sit down with him and laugh and chat — do you think that was going to inoculate him from this kind of absurd attack?” Ingraham mused. “Of course it wasn’t going to.”

Ingraham called it “one of the more ridiculous pieces I have read in some time,” and specifically took up for McCain by pointing out that he had voted against the interests of the lobbyist’s client.

Reminding her listeners why she had once bashed McCain, she needled him this morning for “intimacy of the sort that no one had ever seen between a Republican and a member of the media.”

“John McCain stands before all of these reporters that he has been yukking it up with over the years,” Ingraham said. “And I think he is stunned, frankly. I think he’s stunned that all his old friends would turn on him.”
I noted in my post this morning that the media's increased attention on McCain's potential lobbying infidelities - wholly unsubstantied as they are - would work to focus on McCain's long tenure in Congress, reminding voters of McCain's power well before the Clinton's came to office, painting him as a tired, old GOP warhorse.

But the whole episode forms a case of "Political Manipulation 101." Here's the right-wing talk radio commentariat steaming at NYT's attack on the one hand, while using the smear to bolster the conservative case for leadership of the GOP for '08 on the other.

Michelle Malkin's apparently
holding fire, and Allahpundit at Hot Air's going with the Politico's meme that the far-right's rallying to McCain's defense.

Still, a Rush rally? Well, with (rallying) allies like that, who needs enemies?!!

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