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Jewish World Review March 17, 2000/ 10 Adar II, 5760


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Sunshine on his shoulders -- I DEMAND SOME closure to the John McCain farce, and there's no better way to achieve that than by reviling just a few of the hundreds of reporters, news anchors and columnists who followed the Pied Piper of contemporary American politics. Peter Marks, one of the dimmest New York Times writers-quite a distinction-wrote sadly on March 10 that the "romance" of the campaign has evaporated. How tragic. Marks lamented that this "might be the year of the maverick"; instead it's become boring. He even quoted Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, who said about the McCain fizzle, "It's just the end of the fun."

Marks is just so inadequate a political writer that it's hard not to sympathize with him: what perverse editor at the Times offered a beat in which he could embarrass himself almost daily? One sample, from the same March 10 story: "It was as if a fairly prosperous electorate, content for the most part with how the machinery of government was functioning, wanted something spiritually deeper in its next commander in chief. The sentiment was sensed by reporters."

Hey, dopey: reporters didn't "sense" anything; they invented it.

A March 10 Daily News editorial absurdly denies that the media was McCain's base, much as Sharpton Democrats and union sheep are Al Gore's. Some nitwit (perhaps a relative of Peter Marks) wrote: "John McCain's campaign wasn't a media creation. It was built by real voters who want real change." Oh, baloney. "Real voters" would've given as much attention to McCain as they did Lamar Alexander if it hadn't been for the shameless, and self-indulgent, promotion of the press.

And isn't it thrilling when pundits deign to speak for "us"? Gail Collins, a poor woman's Maureen Dowd, wrote the following in last Friday's New York Times: "Gore-Bush. Deep down, we all knew it would come to this. Bush-Gore. Maybe it will be good for our character. It's really superficial, you know, this desire for a chief executive with charisma. We'll be fine, in time." Since even Collins can recognize (now I'm being presumptuous) that Bill Bradley had no charisma, we know she's talking about Honest John.

Richard Cohen, The Washington Post's most irritating op-ed columnist (except when it comes to Hillary Clinton: man, she must've done him dirty in the last seven years the way he sporadically bludgeons her), was equally grating on March 9. He wrote: "McCain always said he couldn't lose no matter what the outcome. What he didn't say, though, is that we could." Speak for yourself, Dick.

And you too, Mr. Jacob Weisberg, Slate disciple of Michael Kinsley. In his analysis of the decisive March 7 primaries, Weisberg said: "Bradley's speech had all the qualities of his campaign. It was dreary, sanctimonious, and narcissistic. McCain's had the qualities of his. It was jaunty, defiant, and uplifting. Bradley's speech made you feel sorry for him. McCain's made you sorry for us."

Why? I can understand why some Republicans who were smitten with McCain's biography and admired his pro-life, pro-NRA and anti-affirmative action views would be disappointed. Especially if they weren't impressed with Bush. But what's with these liberals? What in the world did they find in common with McCain except that he was "fun" and made them feel like they were in college again?

Writing in the National Journal of March 11, William Powers was wicked in a parody of simps like Cohen, Weisberg, Salon's Jake Tapper, Alter, Howard Kurtz, Collins, James Carney, Chris Matthews and Charles Lane, to name just a handful. Powers: "The orgy is officially over, and we media types are putting our clothes back on and avoiding eye-contact. The morning after is always awkward. 'Good manners and bad breath,' as Elvis Costello once put it. But let's not feel so bad about ourselves. We did what we did, and for all the right reasons. We loosed our passions, followed our bliss. His name was John, and we loved him with every fiber of our being. And what an emotionally starved being it was until he came along."

I can't even get into Frank Rich's March 11 Times column for fear I'll spew all over my tangerine iMac. Rest assured, his piece had about 104 tv, movie and celebrity references, 151 attacks on George Bush and a plug for Hillary Clinton.

Most people have no idea how corrupt journalism really is. Remember, a large portion of the press corps was actually cheering and high-fiving each other when McCain won the New Hampshire primary. What's most incredible is that these jerks are taking McCain's defeat personally. Imagine that.

As for more serious journalists, it's apparent that Michael Kelly's new quarters in Boston (where he's editing The Atlantic, in addition to the National Journal in DC) have not agreed with him. Maybe too many lunches with Teddy Kennedy. How else to explain this Washington Post drivel from March 9: "Had McCain prevailed, the greatly superior general election candidate would have been the Republican one: a smart, tough, funny, cool (the first cool Republican in living memory), experienced, forthright, genuinely attractive war hero, running against an inside-Washington, no-controlling-legal-authority-citing, Naomi-Wolf-hiring, interest-group-kowtowing, sliver-spoon-gumming, establishment-perpetuating son of privilege."

It's a relief that Kelly retains his animus against Al Gore, but if he actually thinks McCain is "cool," we now know the editor must've been the nerdiest kid in his high school. C'mon, just because the Arizona Senator wore shades, told dirty jokes and knew the names of one or two current rock bands, doesn't mean he's cool. There has only been one cool president in the last 50 years and that was JFK; the only possible other cool candidate was Jerry Brown, in '76, '80 and '92.

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.

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