McCain Op-Ed Rejected by New York Times (Updated)

The NYT has declined to run an op-ed piece by John McCain in response to last week’s by Barack Obama, CNN reports, instead giving what’s known in academic circles as a “revise and resubmit.”

In an e-mail to the McCain campaign, Opinion Page Editor David Shipley said he could not accept the piece as written, but would be “pleased, though, to look at another draft.”

“Let me suggest an approach,” he wrote. “The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans. It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece.”

McCain’s rejected op-ed had been a lengthy critique of Obama’s positions on Iraq policy, particularly his view of the surge. “Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history,” wrote McCain, criticizing Obama’s call for an early withdrawal timeline. “I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner prematurely.”

CNN published the piece in its entirety, presumably an indication McCain does not plan to give Shipley another try.

Andrew Rosenthal, who runs the editorial page, says that “It is standard procedure on our Op-Ed page, and that of other newspapers, to go back and forth with an author on his or her submission” and observes, “The New York Times endorsed Senator McCain as the Republican candidate in the presidential primaries. We take his views very seriously.”

Daniel Finkelstein, Chief Leader Writer of the Times of London, says he’d have rejected the piece, too.

[P]olitical pieces by elected officials or candidates can often be very boring – safe, unrevealing and tediously partisan. In general I required such pieces to jump over a pretty high importance barrier before I ran them.

Obama’s piece vaulted that hurdle. It outlined his views, pretty much avoided point scoring, and dealt with the issue.

McCain’s piece, on the other hand, knocked the hurdle over. It wasn’t about Iraq. It was about Obama. If I received it I would have done exactly what the NYT did – send it back and ask them to redraft it so that it was about Iraq and was more, well, interesting.

I’m not persuaded, frankly, that either piece crossed the hurdle. Informed readers didn’t learn anything new reading either of them. Moreover, it strikes me that the two presumptive major party nominees have enough avenues for publicizing their views that they shouldn’t be given major paper op-ed space at all. Those venues are quite valuable and should be reserved as platforms to air ideas that truly provoke thought from people not in the limelight on a daily basis.

Update (Dave Schuler)

Marc Danziger detects a Monty Python tie-in to the kerfuffle which he illustrates with quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Have you noticed how much of modern life has an absurdist comedy tie-in?

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Media, US Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Sen. Obama isn’t running on his accomplishments he’s running on his superior judgement and his person. Questioning his judgement is the only decent avenue of criticism open to Sen. McCain and, frankly, Sen. McCain’s views are well-known and not newsworthy.

    The NYT was wrong to publish Sen. Obama’s op-ed but having done so was wrong not to publish Sen. McCain’s since, as you note, neither “crossed the hurdle”.

  2. Michael says:

    Sen. Obama isn’t running on his accomplishments he’s running on his superior judgement and his person. Questioning his judgement is the only decent avenue of criticism open to Sen. McCain and, frankly, Sen. McCain’s views are well-known and not newsworthy.

    I think the Times’s problem wasn’t with how McCain’s piece was critical of Obama, but rather that McCain’s piece was critical of Obama.

  3. Hal says:

    neither “crossed the hurdle”.

    With all due respect, neither Dave Schuler nor James Joyner are editors by trade, talent or occupation – of a major international paper, no less. Granted bloggers (and commenters) fling their views out willy nilly on subjects they know little or nothing about all the time, but seriously… Neither of you have actually – you know – critiqued either as an OpEd. You’re just kind of throwing that assertion out there as if it’s self evident.

    Just sayin’

  4. Hal says:

    comment to sub

  5. Bithead says:

    With all due respect, neither Dave Schuler nor James Joyner are editors by trade, talent or occupation –

    Laughable, given that neither is David Shipley, the guy who wrote the rejection letter… He did, on the other hand work in the Clinton administration. I guess that’s enough qualification, huh?

  6. ptfe says:

    Bit, the Internet is an amazing thing:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Shipley

    Note that he was Executive Editor for The New Republic for two years, prior to which he was working on the op-ed pages of the NYT; not that it necessarily matters, but he also has an English degree. You may argue that he’s not a talented editor (though I think it would be challenging), but that hardly counts as not being an editor by trade or occupation.

    Total time to research: 2.8 seconds.

  7. Bithead says:

    So that the guy is a political hack and is on record as such doesn’t bother you.

    Search time 1.7 seconds.

    Heh… And was married to Naomi Wolf….Interesting.

  8. Hal says:

    Laughable, given that neither is David Shipley,

    Geebus Bit. As ptfe points out, a couple of seconds of googling would have turned up actual research instead of straw men of your onanistic fantasies of the Clintons. And given that his actual job is – wait for it – deputy editorial page editor and Op-Ed editor of The New York Times, your sneering comment is literally self refuting.

    I mean, do you actually think a second or two before you write these comments? I’m not one to generally be a stickler in the wild blogosphere comment world, but this is a new low. I mean, Op-Ed editor is the guy’s actual job.

    Really, Dr. B. This is just stunning.

  9. Hal says:

    So that the guy is a political hack and is on record as such doesn’t bother you.

    He’s got his degree in English, has spent a huge part of his professional career as an actual editor and your self refuting, asinine comment claiming the contrary doesn’t shame you?

    Dude, unlike you, there are a heck of a lot of people who can actually do their work without having their politics actually bleed through it all.

    “political hack”? Really Bit, where on earth do you deduce that? Oh yea, you just divined it from his a) work for the Clinton administration and b) his previous marriage to Naomi Wolf.

    Dear god, Bit, you are the hack.

  10. Our Paul says:

    To my mind, a brilliant political move on the part of the McCain Team. One of the most devastating myths promulgated by the Right is the concept of the “biased liberal press”. The submitted manuscript to the Times what clearly was a political “hit” piece (CNN link provided by Dr. Joyner) and unfit as an op-ed column.

    When the hit piece peace, redolent with the usual Center Right slime is “leaked” to CNN, the “Mission Accomplished” banner could be raised to muted sounds of back slaps and high fives (no fists bumps for this crowed). To wit:

    The canard of the liberal press is once again proven!!! McCain is right on Iraq and can not get the message out!!! Obama is… just read the CNN report!!! The Times does not want to admit we are winning in Iraq!!!

    Best of all, as exemplified by Dr. Joyner’s closing remarks and Dave Schuller’s post, Obama’s original column in the Times showed no innovative thinking, it was nothing but political dribble!!!

    Brilliant, the best political chess moved made the McCain Team since the inception of the campaign, and if we are unwilling to cheer, we should at least admire…

  11. Hal says:

    we should at least admire…

    Hmmm. At best a holding pattern. First off, no one cares about this “issue” other than the hard core. And it’s not going to change any of the hard core’s minds – see Bit, Dr.

    On the other hand, an OpEd in the NY Times, especially not one written like an old man in a pink bathrobe running around his yard in bunny slippers, shaking a golf club and yelling at his political opponent to get off his hard, is actually a huge plus to the campaign – in as much as anyone actually reads the NY Times OpEds who can be convinced.

    Despite James and Dave’s objections to the contrary, Obama’s piece was pretty good by political OpEd standards, and he laid out a good case for his policy. It got a lot of good press and was exquisitely timed, especially given Maliki’s recent endorsement of Obama’s platform.

    McCain? Geebus. The whole thing just looks like an amateurish, whiny, feeble attempt at grabbing headlines while his opponent is off making news.

    Sure, McCain’s OpEd rejection plays to the bizarro base, of which Dr. Bit is an exemplary stereotype, but it’s not like this is an Obama voter conversion.

    Admire it? I don’t know. It’s just SOP in the modern right wing reactionary’s playbook. How can one admire a reflex action that doesn’t do that much materially?

  12. anjin-san says:

    Well, I am on my first cup of coffee and Bit has already been caught spinning falsehoods and ranting about Clinton. Another day in the neighborhood…

  13. Hal says:

    Re: update by Schuler

    Have you noticed how much of modern life has an absurdist comedy tie-in?

    I suppose. Surely it’s absurd to keep hearing about victory, how McCain knows how to “win wars”, etc, etc. And yet we never hear any details. Laugh all you want, but actually asking for some details is refreshing.

    As I recall, the Armed Liberal was on the losing side of this whole fiasco and lack of details was actually a big problem with the whole strategic blunder. Failure to actually press for facts and explanations is largely responsible for getting us into an enormously costly mistake.

    So it’s really no surprise that AL simply resorts to a lame attempt at analogizing to a sketch in the Holy Grail. I mean, AL is simply following true to his past failures in this area.

  14. Michael says:

    Marc Danziger detects a Monty Python tie-in to the kerfuffle which he illustrates with quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Have you noticed how much of modern life has an absurdist comedy tie-in?

    Ok, so Obama writes about what he plans to do in Iraq, and the NYT publishes it. McCain writes something saying that Obama’s plan is bad (without actually explaining what makes it bad), and it gets rejected. Surely the comedy isn’t in the rejection of McCain’s piece, but in its submission.

  15. c. wagener says:

    This is another spectacularly poor business decision by NYT. Whether it’s a poor journalistic decision, I’m not qualified to say.

    Hal says only the “hard core” care. Well maybe about the details, but not about the headlines. Obama’s accepted. McCain’s rejected.

    The thing is, can anyone really say that the NYT’s editorial pages are so packed with quality thinking that they can’t spare some space for a candidate for president. Gosh the nation really needs more Mo Dowd screeching about her inability to get laid.

  16. Derrick says:

    Bit, the Internet is an amazing thing:

    Hate to be juvenile, but PWNED!

  17. Hal says:

    Obama’s accepted. McCain’s rejected.

    Pretty much my standard for this kind of thing is whether my Mom (evangelical christian, hard core republican, all around great mom) has heard about it in her little world in Colorado Springs. She heard about Obama’s OpEd (didn’t read it, naturally) but hasn’t heard jack about this flap. Maybe she will eventually, but I can’t for the life of me think that she’d give a rat’s tuckus about it.

    Headlines? Geebus. Only in the technical sense that it’s the “head line” of an article. It isn’t big news in anything but the hard core right wing blogs.

  18. Triumph says:

    Lets remember that the NY Times is liberal. They hate patriots and hence, they are insulting McCain and great proponents of Obama’s embrace of defeat.

    These damned liberals.

  19. Bithead says:

    He’s got his degree in English,

    Heheheh…. So does Chomsky. I’m unclear on how this exonerates either of them from the charge of being a political hack.

    Dude, unlike you, there are a heck of a lot of people who can actually do their work without having their politics actually bleed through it all.

    So you REALLY think this wasn’t a political move on Shipley’s part? How big a brick you need to be hit with?

    has spent a huge part of his professional career as an actual editor

    Of such places as the fact-challanged, left leaning “New Republic”. And of course we’re not supposed to take that point as an indication of his politics, either, right?

    Good thing you’re not in sales, Hal. You’d starve to death.

  20. Hal says:

    Wow. Is that the best you can come back with?

    Sad.

  21. Bithead says:

    Obama’s accepted. McCain’s rejected.

    Mmmmph.
    That Rasmussen posted poll results yesterday, saynig that the majority of Americans already thought the press is in the tank for Obama, even before this story broke seems important, here.

    Now, I don’t have the reasearch to hand, but Hume ran a story in the last few weeks which looked at the amount of coverage of the various TV networks… Obama Vs McCain. That came out something on the order of 5 minutes for Obama to one minute in mention of McCain.

    American Thinker adds his two cents, suggesting we should follow the money, in terms of finding bias:

    Individuals who reported being employed by major media organizations made the following contributions:

    NBC, NBC Universal: $104,184 to Democrats / $3,150 to Republicans

    CBS: $45,508 to Dems / $966 to Republicans

    ABC: $17,320 / $4,717

    Turner Broadcasting, TBS: $30,161 / $3,950

    Fox: $40,573 / $0

    Fox News/Fox News Channel: $1,280 / $0

    MSNBC: $210 / $282

    CNN: $2,286 / $1,250

    Associated Press: $2,550 / $545

    Reuters: $10,745 / $3,450

    Washington Post, Newsweek: $4,268 / $0

    New York Times, NYT Co: $8,143 / $0

    Time, Inc: $40,988 / $4,850 ($2,300 to Republicans was from someone identified as a jeweler, so the total may actually be $2,550)

    Time Magazine: $1,250 / $0

    USA Today: $6,067 / $0

    Totals for the above:

    $315,533 to Democrats ; $22,656 to Republicans — most of that to Ron Paul, who was supported by many liberals as a stalking horse to John McCain, a la Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos with Hillary and Obama.

    What is truly remarkable about the above list is that, discounting contributions to Paul and Rudy Giuliani, who was a favorite son for many folks in the media, the totals look like this:

    $315,533 to Democrats, $3,150 to Republicans (4 individuals who donated to McCain.)

    Let me repeat that: $315,533 to Democrats, $3,150 to Republicans.

    A ratio of 100 : 1.

    No bias there.

    All the Times did was support with yet another datapoint what everyone else already knows.

  22. Bithead says:

    Just for point of refernce, hHal… you say Shipley’s rejkection wasn’t politically motivated.

    Do you also think Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction was an accident?

  23. Our Paul says:

    To Hal and others:

    There was no intent to enter the Right / Left kamfp in my comments, just a minor attempt to flex the writers fingers after an enforced absence from the blogosphere due to more delightful pursuits… The old problems remain, slow thinker, slow writer…

    James presented a balanced post, quoting(linking) both Rosenthal (NY Times editor) and Finkelstein (Times of London). Dave on the other hand, updates with a link which spoofs the whole rumble… All three links deserve a quick read.

    For those willing to walk the last mile, the Cartpetbagger Report, carries absurdity to its just conclusion. Putting the two pieces side by side, they report word counts and number of times the contestants reference each other…

    And after that bit of inanity, I still think the McCain Campaign seized the moment. After all, the mark of a good Republican President is the ability to frame adverse news as a function of a mean “Liberal Press”. This Bud is for you, John!!!

  24. Hal says:

    My god, Bit. Just stop. It’s embarrassing.

  25. Hal says:

    There was no intent to enter the Right / Left kamfp in my comments…

    Was trying to engage your comments thoughtfully.

    After all, the mark of a good Republican President is the ability to frame adverse news as a function of a mean “Liberal Press”.

    Perhaps. But my point was that if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it matter?

  26. Bithead says:

    My god, Bit. Just stop. It’s embarrassing.

    What, that you can’t come up with an answer to the long list of proofs to the point of a liberal press and one of it’s members acting politically? Come on now, you can do better than that, at least.

    Or can you?

  27. anjin-san says:

    Look Hal, its time for you to face facts.

    Its all a VAST…….. Left…….. Wing……. Conspiracy!

    Vast I tell you!

  28. sam says:

    He’s got his degree in English

    Heheheh…. So does Chomsky.

    Uh, his degrees are in philosophy and linguistics.

  29. Hal says:

    Uh, his degrees are in philosophy and linguistics.

    roflmao!

    “Captain, we can’t take much more of this pounding!”

  30. anjin-san says:

    Hey bit, since you are on a roll, can you tell us again how we were 2 weeks away from victory in Vietnam when libs pulled the plug?

  31. Bithead says:

    Sure. Here… but I think it’s above your abiliy.

  32. Bithead says:

    linguistics

    (Shrug) Easy enough to miss, since most of his work n the subject is in and about English… notably, The Sound Pattern of English, for example.

    I note that while his site is long on the honoray degrees he has, it says nothing about what dgrees he actually earned hismelf… no more do the hushed tones on the worship page erected on Wikipedia.

  33. Michael says:

    (Shrug) Easy enough to miss, since most of his work n the subject is in and about English… notably, The Sound Pattern of English, for example.

    Sorry Bit, but too often you post things that you assume are fact, that you should have verified before submitting. You can’t shrug this off as a one-time error that anybody could have made. And ending with ad hominem doesn’t cover up the error either.

  34. anjin-san says:

    Well bit, I hate to break it to you but simply reading something on a blog does not make it so. For proof of this we need go no further than some of your quickly disproven statemnents on this very thread. But let us review your “proof”

    The Truth About Vietnam’s Tet Offensive
    As any student of the war in Vietnam will tell you, we were winning the war on the ground, but the media, as today in Iraq and else where, is invested in America’s defeat – they want us to be a third rate nation so they can, as the controlling elite, feel good about their personal good fortune. They will scrafice anyone and anything to maintain this fantasy.

    As moral and physical cowards, this is the easiest way for the media journalists, read these people as urban terrorists, to keep control of their power – a power based on deception and misinformation. The scary part is that this is found in almost all print media, including most magazines of any type, and, of course, nearly all television save Fox.

    Just think of the years before talk radio and Fox News that he liberal socialists control everything we saw and read –

    Well there is the obviously nonsensical assertation that “any student” of the war in Vietnam will tell you a certain thing, in this case the argument the author is making. This alone would probably earn an “F” in frosh history.
    The post then rapidly degenerates into a rant about his personal opinions. Not much in the way of fact here.

    I also note the author does not seem to have a strong grasp of the proper use of the English language – note “control everything we saw and read “.

    Mr. Herman is a legitimate scholar, but his conclusions are just that, the conclusions of a single scholar. Elevating them to the status of “Truth” is nonsense. It would be easy to find any number of equally qualified historians who reached conclusions that are quite different.

    So, in a way you are correct. I do not have the ability to read a post on a rant site and then decide that I have encountered a burning bush…

  35. Bithead says:

    Be thankful I remmained civil, Mike. It’s near on impossible, with Chomsky as the subject. I find the man completely detestable, to say the very least.

  36. Bithead says:

    Well bit, I hate to break it to you but simply reading something on a blog does not make it so

    Catch 22: That by nature includes YOUR statements.

    Bonus round; He’s hardly the only one saying this. I commit to your reading, Unheralded Victory: The Defeat of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army, 1961-1973. By Mark W. Woodruff. Vandamere Press.

    Need the ISBN?

  37. Michael says:

    Be thankful I remmained civil, Mike.

    I expect you to remain civil at all times. I’m thankful when you are informative.

  38. anjin-san says:

    Bonus round; He’s hardly the only one saying this.

    Who said he was? It’s informed opinion. (and, I suspect, far more historians would disagree than agree) Does not make it a “fact”.

  39. The NY Times has every right to reject Senator McCain’s editorial, as it is their paper. I have every right to consider that rejection as prima facie evidence of their bias in favor of Senator Obama, as it my opinion.

    Hopefully, my opinion will not become a thoughtcrime any time soon.

  40. anjin-san says:

    BTW bit, a quick search would produce ISBN’s for books denying the Holocaust ever happened. Guess by your standards that makes it fact, whereas most of know that argument is tripe…

  41. Bithead says:

    BTW bit, a quick search would produce ISBN’s for books denying the Holocaust ever happened. Guess by your standards that makes it fact, whereas most of know that argument is tripe…

    It’s an amazing process to watch, and it always comes down to this; When presented with what they ask for, liberals will invariably deny the validity of what they receive, rather than question the validity of their preconceptions.

    SSDD.

    I expect you to remain civil at all times.

    That’s because you’ve read my output for some time now, and pretty much know what to expect. But let’s be clear on this; you’re in no position to demand it.

  42. anjin-san says:

    Bit all you have done is produce 2 works (one posted on a rant site) that support your argument. Hardly Earth shaking, or the first attempt to revise history.

    I could as easily cite “Understanding Vietnam” or “Fire in the Lake” to support a contrarian argument. Don’t pat yourself on the back too hard, you might fall over 🙂

  43. Michael says:

    That’s because you’ve read my output for some time now, and pretty much know what to expect. But let’s be clear on this; you’re in no position to demand it.

    Well yes and no. I do anticipate you being civil, based on what I’ve seen of your posts. But I expect civility from everybody, just as I expect to be civil to everybody, it’s just how I was raised. You’re right, though, that it’s not a demand, you’re free to disappoint if you feel so inclined.

  44. Bithead says:

    Bit all you have done is produce 2 works (one posted on a rant site) that support your argument

    Had you forgotten that the points I’m arguing against are also posted on what amounts to a (Very good) rant site? I mean, come on, here.

    If you’re honest, you’ll at least admit to yourself that you decided to get in another gloat since you thought you got by with others. When you get brought up short by opposition, you go into sour grapes mode… (Old Aesop knew what he was on about!) and trust me on this if nothing else, I’ve seen that happen for longer than the internet has been around.

  45. […] McCain Op-Ed Rejected by New York Times (Updated) – Outside BeltwayThe NYT has declined to run an op-ed piece by John McCain in response to last week’s by Barack Obama, CNN reports, instead giving what’s known in academic circles as a “revise and resubmit.” In an e-mail to the McCain campaign, Opinion Page […]

  46. anjin-san says:

    When you get brought up short by opposition, you go into sour grapes mode.

    I am pretty sure that the only one here who has ever “brought me up short” here in a way that meant anything to me is Michael, and since I regard him as an intelligent and fair commentator, I am happy to be informed by his opinions. I give James an honorable mention, but his bias does knock him down a notch.

    The only grapes I indulge in are the sweet ones we grow here in California, or their superb cousins in France when I am lucky enough to be there 🙂

  47. anjin-san says:

    also posted on what amounts to a (Very good) rant site

    I don’t think you are clear on what a rant site is. Though we commenters may, on occasion, rant (and perchance, rave) the posters here do not indulge in the Coulter-esque drivel that I saw on the site you referenced earlier in the thread. I often disagree with them, but they generally present their ideas in an informed, coherent and intelligent manner.

    The fact that you seem to read, and would reference such a site, is a rather telling all by bitself itself,,,

  48. Bithead says:

    Ah.

    So, in your view, a ‘rant site” is someplace where the writers there offer thought you disagree with. A very revealing definition.

  49. Michael says:

    I am pretty sure that the only one here who has ever “brought me up short” here in a way that meant anything to me is Michael, and since I regard him as an intelligent and fair commentator, I am happy to be informed by his opinions. I give James an honorable mention, but his bias does knock him down a notch.

    Your biggest problem, anjin-san, is that you perceive agreement as a sign of non-bias. I am biased, more so than James on some issues. James is very intelligent and as fair as anybody, I’d say the same for Dave Schuler and Steven Taylor. I agree with Alex Knapp on most issues, but he’s much more biased than the other three. Bithead is significantly biased, but he’s also quite intelligent. Being biased doesn’t mean they’re not fair, and it doesn’t mean that they’re wrong.

  50. anjin-san says:

    So, in your view, a ‘rant site” is someplace where the writers there offer thought you disagree with. A very revealing definition.

    Nope. I think I just got through saying that even if I generally disagree with James and other posters on this site (with the exception of Alex), they do not rant. The little chestnut below that you linked to is a rant (I not that it is also packaged as “truth” is that where you picked up that habit?):

    Please don’t try to put words in my mouth. If you can’t produce a meaningful argument, retire and move on. I am happy to hear differing opinions if they are presented with a modicum of intelligence. I might even be persuaded to change my mind 🙂

    The Truth About Vietnam’s Tet Offensive
    As any student of the war in Vietnam will tell you, we were winning the war on the ground, but the media, as today in Iraq and else where, is invested in America’s defeat – they want us to be a third rate nation so they can, as the controlling elite, feel good about their personal good fortune. They will scrafice anyone and anything to maintain this fantasy.

    As moral and physical cowards, this is the easiest way for the media journalists, read these people as urban terrorists, to keep control of their power – a power based on deception and misinformation. The scary part is that this is found in almost all print media, including most magazines of any type, and, of course, nearly all television save Fox.

  51. anjin-san says:

    Your biggest problem, anjin-san, is that you perceive agreement as a sign of non-bias.

    I don’t think so. I do not doubt that you are biased. You just seem to be more even handed then the average OTB poster…