COMPLACENCY IS FOR THE DELUSIONAL
Andrea Marcotte is right:
...The entire point of calling McCain a "maverick" is to insinuate -- wrongly -- that he's barely a Republican at all. Just a formality, really. Goodness, he's practically in the party so that he can go undercover with his maverick so-not-Bush ways. *swoon*
This is going to be the major problem of the entire election season, that the media will tell the story that McCain needs to win, about how he's practically a Democrat, except that they don't let grumpy white war veterans into the party. It's a lie, but repeat it enough -- say, 100 times a day from now until November -- and it will have the glow of truth to it. That he's not any different from any other Republican in any way that counts will not be the story that gets told....
If you needed any evidence of this, check out the current "Write Your Own Caption" political cartoon contest from McClatchy Newspapers. Here's the wordless version:
And here's the winning caption from a reader (yeah, it's not really a caption):
Amanda's post is inspired by this blog post from The Nation's Katha Pollitt, which is probably the best analysis of the problem:
...He may look like a grumpy old man ... or the nutty old uncle who rags on everyone at Thanksgiving before passing out in front of the football game. But that's another way of saying McCain is a familiar, indeed family, character. It does not require an imaginative stretch to get John McCain. How many voters know someone like Barack Obama?
... So what if he's old? In politics old can be good ( for men), especially to the older voters -- older white voters -- who dominate the polls. Besides, McCain's not so old that he couldn't get himself a much younger trophy wife, and even if Cindy McCain looks brittle and unhappy and like she hasn't eaten in a decade, she is always there by his side, a visual reminder of his manly prowess. McCain is brash and sly and seemingly unguarded, unlike the famously self-protective Hillary Clinton, and he loves to schmooze with reporters, who adore him and like most of the rest of America, refuse to see how conservative he is. It's like they're saying, Oh go on, Uncle John! you're just saying you love Sam Alito to get me riled up! ...
So the task at hand is to prevent the narrative from being: The Democrat is way off to one side; the Republican is right in the middle. Can it be done?