Department of the Obvious

If the Wall Street Journal’s interview with John McCain on Saturday wasn’t the most self-serving exercise this side of the check-out lines at Shop ‘n’ Stop, it’ll do till something better comes along.

Here’s McCain on how he was shocked shocked at his press treatment in last year’s presidential campaign, as related by interviewer Stephen “Death Before Taxes” Moore:

He seems perplexed that his pals in the media turned on him in 2008 after years of worshipful press treatment. “In 2000 [when he ran against George W. Bush] I used to go chat with reporters on the back of the bus, and we would have these long, pleasant conversations . . . . I was the underdog clawing my way up. But then in 2008, I noticed that it would be kind of a gotcha session with the press—a totally more hostile attitude.”

No, a totally more high-stakes attitude. When you’re a presidential longshot, you get the kid gloves. But when you’re the actual Republican presidential candidate, the gloves have to come off, as any reasonable politician would agree.

[Update: Yes, yes, the news media completely failed to do the same to Barack Obama. But that doesn’t mean they should have gone easier on McCain or – a candidate with a more serious grievance – Hillary Clinton. It means they should’ve done their job and examined Obama’s candidacy just as closely.]

Meanwhile, on the economic front, the stock market tanked, creating another dilemma for McCain as he told Moore:

“We were three points up on September 14. The next day the market lost 700 points and $1.2 trillion in wealth vanished, and by the end of the day we were seven points down.”

That, of course, confirmed the conventional wisdom at the time: If the political topic of conversation in the runup to the election was Iraq and homeland security, advantage McCain; if it was the economy, advantage Obama.

Which brings us to Moore’s next question:

Why did [McCain] suspend his campaign, and why did he vote for the $700 billion bank bailout plan, which was wildly unpopular with voters?

Here’s McCain’s response:

“You have no idea the pressure I was under  . . . So I do the impetuous and rash thing by saying, look, I have got to go back to Washington and see how I can help. And by the way, so did Obama—but it was McCain that was the impetuous one. “

Yeah, because Obama didn’t make a big to-do about suspending his campaign and putting patriotism over politics yak yak yak the way McCain did, except the gambit was transparently political – not to mention lame – on McCain’s part, making him look, well, impetuous and rash.

The WSJ headlined the McCain interview, “Pulling No Punches.” Truth is, McCain punched himself out.

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