Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Feb. 2, 2000/ 28 Shevat, 5760


JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
David Corn
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports
Weekly Standard



McCain's Moment Fades? -- TOM BROKAW: You a rainmaker, baby! The following is an example of why most Americans despise and distrust the mainstream media and are increasingly ignoring the evening news as anchored by Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather.

On Meet the Press last Sunday, Brokaw had stern advice for Gov. George W. Bush. He said that whether or not Bush won the New Hampshire primary, it was incumbent upon him the next day to pronounce that he wants Sen. John McCain to be included on every New York ballot for its March 7 contest. As an elected official, Bush can't respond to this pompous jackass the way he'd prefer, but in a more honest world, he'd say: "Buzz off, Hoss. What the heck have you or any of your elite colleagues done for me? McCain knew the rules, he just didn't figure to be in the hunt so late in the game. He screwed up. That's my fault? Get back in your white stretch limo and try not to run over any squirrels on the streets of Manchester."

The Beltway Club isn't pleased, but McCain is fading fast, even as reporters openly hump his candidacy. Earlier last week, when it was decided that Bush's victory in Iowa wasn't particularly impressive (41 percent in a six-man field), the pundits figured that the Arizona Senator was wise to skip those caucuses and concentrate on New Hampshire, where his message of campaign finance reform would resonate. Especially with all those flinty, earnest, take-no-wooden-nickels New Englanders. What baloney.

The real story was this: Even though McCain didn't campaign in Iowa (he didn't have the money, for one thing), by now he's a national celebrity. He's the maverick, the war hero who's eager to clean up Washington and tell a few dirty jokes on the side.

Iowa isn't blacked out from the media; I'm certain that Time, Newsweek and (shudder) the national edition of The New York Times are read in that state. So if the populist phenomenon for McCain the Clean was accurate, he'd have attracted more than five percent of the vote in that state. That poor showing wasn't reported, because reporters and pundits are jammed on McCain's "Straight Talk Express" bus, eatin' Dunkin' Donuts and holding makeshift seminars on how to close corporate tax loopholes. And maybe convincing McCain to jump over to the Reform Party so they can continue all this chatter until November. Gosh, Beav, that would be swell!

Slate's Jacob Weisberg, who's a Top Five McCain acolyte, is so in awe of the Senator's physical courage that you imagine, upon meeting the great man, Weisberg reran Wayne's World in his head, bowed down and whispered, "I'm not worthy!" In the conclusion of his dispatch on last Wednesday's GOP debate, Weisberg, who at least had the decency to admit that some of McCain's jokes are now stale, wrote: "I am increasingly getting the sense that McCain's various liberal positions represent a change of heart, or at least an ongoing evolution in his views." Does that mean, Jake, that McCain, who's at least 25 years your elder, is coming around to a proper political philosophy? Naaw!

Weisberg, running a vigorous campaign this year for the Sid Blumenthal Brown-Nosing Award, then outdid himself in McCain hagiography on Jan. 29, explaining how much fun it is to be present for the "bull sessions" on the Straight Talk Express that have become the "hottest ticket on the campaign trail this year." The following two sentences, I swear, are not madcap MUGGER parody; I should only be so clever. Weisberg, presumably after asking McCain to zip up, writes: "McCain talks until your notebook is full, your tape player is out of batteries and your pen is out of ink. After a couple of hours, every journalist in his entourage has the same, enviable problem: too much good material."

A colleague of mine recently wrote: "You should know by now that every sensible American avoids Slate like the plague. Writers like Weisberg only cause high blood pressure. Slate is so awful that I took it off my bookmarks about six months ago and make a point of never going there."

Bush, in the last 48 hours of the New Hampshire slugfest, has steadily regained support, as has Bill Bradley on the Democratic side. These are my predictions for the final tally: Bush takes McCain by two points, say 36 percent to 34 percent; Steve Forbes is effectively shut down with a disappointing 17 percent; Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer and assorted nutcases take the rest of the vote.

(For the record, I think all the flak Keyes took, for his mosh pit experience after a solid third-place finish in Iowa, was much ado about nothing. He probably hasn't had that much fun in 25 years. Give the guy a break-after all, he said his daughter thought it was cool, and that gave him a warm glow inside.)

What amazed me on Sunday, while watching The McLaughlin Group, was that the panel, which included McCain enthusiasts Eleanor Clift and Clarence Page, who believe the Senator will prevail in New Hampshire, unanimously predicted that Bush would win the South Carolina primary by double digits. Something doesn't add up here. A McCain victory on Tuesday is supposed to crack Bush's facade of Inevitability and make voters across the country realize what the smart folks in the media have known all along: "Dubya" isn't ready for prime time.

I think McCain is finished. But don't listen to me when The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt is available. He said on Capital Gang last Saturday night, in a show in which he and Time's Margaret Carlson dripped with condescension about those good civic voters in New Hampshire, that the primary is McCain's to lose. Hunt: "It's not unusual in New Hampshire to see things tighten in the final weekend. I went to that George Bush event with his mom and dad today, and it was a good event: it was a good crowd. I talked to a number of people there, and they said 'we think we're with a winner' and they felt good about that. An hour later...I went to a McCain town hall rally, and it was absolutely electric-an overflow crowd-the fire marshals were turning people away. I think in this state, intensity, commitment, enthusiasm counts for a lot. John McCain has tapped into something very special. I expect to see a huge Republican turnout on Tuesday, and he'll be the beneficiary."

What Is McCain's Magic?

Is it not kosher at this point to blast McCain? Perhaps it isn't, but I'm acting in the interests of Janet Reno, Chelsea Clinton, any person who suffers from Alzheimer's, the "gooks" in Vietnam and every Arizona reporter who's been given the finger by McCain. The National Review, in its Feb. 7 issue, crucified the Senator with a cover headline of "Wrong-Way McCain" accompanied by an unflattering illustration. I'm sure Hunt and Carlson have canceled their subscriptions. NR editor Rich Lowry, for example, ends his essay on McCain with this zinger: "McCain often says he wants to give our country back to us. What he doesn't understand is that it isn't his to give."

But the publication's star in this edition is clearly Mark Steyn, an outstanding journalist who appears in The Spectator, The Wall Street Journal and other magazines. One of Steyn's key points about the snowjob McCain's pulled on a gullible media is that the '96 GOP nominee, Bob Dole, was a war hero as well, as well as a one-liner master, yet he was attacked by the likes of Jonathan Alter, Richard Cohen and Weisberg.

Steyn's essay is a nonstop gut-buster, but I'll just excerpt my favorite section about the insurgent's sickening relationship with the press: "The bizarre love affair between McCain and the media is, to put
it in terms an MTV Awards attendee would appreciate, a bit like the relationship between now silicone-deflated pinup Pamela Anderson and bad-boy rocker Tommy Lee. We in the media are bland, plastic, airbrushed, and cosmetically enhanced, and John's our bit of rough...

"You can see what McCain gets out of the relationship from a glance at the papers. But what do his buddies get in return? Well, they get all that platoon camaraderie, but without having to be in an actual platoon! They get profanity, misogynist cracks, dirty jokes, crude racial stereotyping, the kind of man-to-man banter your average American journalist, in his antiseptic, sensitivity-trained, diversity-friendly, woman-friendly, minority-friendly, gay-friendly newsroom, hasn't seen in two decades, poor thing."

As for Al Gore and Bradley, I'll stick my neck out: if a sizable number of New Hampshire voters saw the Vice President's sickening performance in last Wednesday's debate, and then tuned in to Bill Clinton's self-serving and meaningless State of the Union speech the next night, a Bradley upset is in the works. I think he'll defeat Gore by one percentage point.

It's too bad Bradley didn't have the National Review's Kate O'Beirne on his payroll the last year. She said on the same Capital Gang in which Hunt rhapsodized about McCain: "I think Bill Bradley is finally expressing the rationale for his candidacy, essentially, can't we have the prosperity without the perjury? Can't we as Democrats take advantage of the record that we Democrats have built up over the past seven years without all the baggage? And he's arguing, Al Gore is Clinton without the charm. Whether or not Bill Bradley gets the nomination he will be a very familiar presence throughout the fall. Because Republicans are going to be running countless ads with Bill Bradley talking about the fact that Al Gore can't be trusted, Al Gore is the master of snare and spin. And surely, Democrats are going to begin thinking, wait a minute, don't tell me we're going to have to be defending Al Gore for the next four years, much as we had to for Bill Clinton."

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

MUGGER Archives


© 2000, Russ Smith