McCain Takes 1st Class Train

Ben Armbruster, a Think Progress research associate, reports that the press is giving John McCain soft treatment because he invited some of them over for a barbecue recently. His evidence?

McCain Rides 1st Class Train The Associated Press published an article this afternoon that focused solely on the fact that, even though he has access to a charter plane, McCain took a train from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia. More than that, the article praised him for it, calling him a “man of the people.” Yet two sentences later, the AP included a detail of the trip that completely undermines that claim:

John McCain traveled like a man of the people Friday morning, riding an Amtrak train to Philadelphia after a late night of voting in Washington.

“Nice to see you, nice to see you,” McCain said to workers and passengers who greeted him on the 8 a.m. high-speed Acela Express train.

McCain, accompanied by a campaign aide, was left alone by the public as he sat in the first-class car for much of the 1 1/2 hour trip. [Emphases all in original.]

Having taken the Acela Express from DC to New York once upon a time, I can report that the 1st Class accommodations aren’t much to write home about. Nor are they, as is typical for air travel, expensive (which explains why we splurged).

Out of curiosity, I went to the Amtrac site to check out ticket pricing from DC to Philly (WAS to PHL, if you want to try it yourself) on a random Friday morning. It turns out that coach seats are very hard to come by if you’re booking early morning trips without much advanced notice; that’s especially true on the Acela trains, which run less frequently. Indeed, there were no coach seats for the morning of March 21st or March 28th.

One-way business class for an 8 a.m. departure the 21st will set you back $122. At 9 a.m. the 28th, $137. In both cases, the 1st Class upgrade is $69. You hardly have to be Bill Gates to afford that.

While it’s silly to classify McCain as a “man of the people” for traveling by train — or perhaps period given his relative wealth — it strikes me that Libby Quaid was simply saying that he was out mingling with the people rather than cloistered away on a private plane as is customary for someone in his position. Indeed, “traveled like a man of the people Friday morning” seems to suggest that he doesn’t travel that way otherwise; it’s virtually a simile.

My Ruckus colleague Oliver Willis takes Armbruster a step further: “The biggest obstacle to a national conversation in the election this fall will be the way in which the mainstream media will run interference for John McCain.” Barack Obama is welcome to host barbecues and grant reporters the level of access McCain has. Indeed, I’d welcome it. There are serious risks to that much exposure. But, undoubtedly, there are rewards.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Blogosphere, Media, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Failure to attack = “soft treatment”

  2. Anon says:

    What’s ironic about this is that by this, Armbruster has inadvertently revealed that he has had little experience with train travel.

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    What gets me is that you have a liberal who shows such contempt for the press that they could be bought off by a barbecue.

    Lets explore that ‘logic’ for a second. Imagine that the press could be so easily bought off. Do you think that any politician wouldn’t do so? The inly limit would be how much BBQ you can stuff down their throats, not how many politicians would gladly “buy off” the press at that price. Infinite demand because of such a low price.

    So if that is true, then why believe anything in the press. Any press article becomes a lie for the cost of a plate of BBQ. In Texas at a high end BBQ joint that is under $20 for all you can eat. Less than a decade ago we use to go to a all you can eat for lunch at $4.95. The ambiance was essentially uncooled/heated barn, but the BBQ was good (Salt Lick near Austin). So for $1000 could buy off every MSM outlet reporter. Look at the money coming into the campaigns. Heck, Clinton, Obama and McCain could foot this bill out of there personal pockets.

    This reminds me of a liberal friend who sent an AP report of the Belgrade riots at the US embassy and said “Here is a terrorist attack on US soil”. He was so excited at the idea of being able to pick up a club to bash Bush with, that he didn’t think the logic through. If you are going to consider a riot that started a fire that was contained in less than 45 minutes a terrorist attacks, then how many democrats from the 60s would not be considered terrorists by that definition. He of course immediately dropped the line of argument. Hopefully this liberal will also see the basic inanity of his position and drop the argument.

  4. DL says:

    The protection McCain will get by our illustrious media is because of his love for the global warming hoax -open borders -killing preborns for embryonic stem cell experimention – termninating tax cuts – and AMNESTY. Or, to put it in the words of Dick Morris – for liberals “McCain is a perfectly acceptable alternative”

    What have we done to America?