McCain’s Press Game

McCain’s Press Game Alex Massie offers an interesting explanation for John McCain’s popularity with — and occasional kid gloves treatment by — the press corps.

In some ways he is a very unAmerican politician. At his best McCain recognises and mocks the rules of the game, the absurd hoops that candidates are expected to leap through and the dizzyingly facile nature of the modern campaign.

Unlike say Hillary Clinton, he’s fond of the knowing wink that acknowledges the daftness of the media-political vortex. I know this is a game, he slyly suggests, and I also know that you like the fact that you know that I know and appreciate the ridiculousness of the game. But I didn’t make the rules and, heck, I’m not sure you can remember insisting upon them either. But we’re in it together so let’s make as merry as we can and do our best to forget the degrading lunacy of the contest.

So when McCain makes a joke such as his “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” refrain, the press is willing to concede that this is indeed actually a joke. When McCain panders, the press forgives him because he’s winked at them – and at the entire process – as if to say Watch me do this, see how much fun opportunism can be – especially when you know that I know that I don’t really mean it or, heavens above, take it seriously.

Campaign reporters spend long, tedious days for months on end with the candidates. A little good humor goes a long way in making that time more bearable. But, of course, the reporters have to know that you’re joking.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, 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 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.