The dean of D.C. press corps' column yesterday was headlined "What We've Learned About McCain," but it's not clear "we" were watching the same campaign. After paying tribute to McCain's heroism, his "backbone," his "patriotic impulses," and on and on, Broder got down to supposed lessons– McCain didn't manage his relationship with a wounded GOP, for example. And then this (emphasis added):
McCain was handed a terrible political environment by the outgoing Bush administration–a legacy of war, debt and scandal that would have defeated any of the other aspirants for the nomination. But because McCain could not create a coherent philosophy or vision of his own, he allowed Obama and the Democrats to convince voters of a falsehood: that electing McCain would in effect reward Bush with a third term.
The David Broders of the world do not accuse politicians of lies or "falsehoods" very often, so it's truly revealing that he thinks that it is not just unfair but an outright deception to link Bush to the candidate whose voting record has overwhelmingly been in lock-step with the Bush White House over the past two years, who famously reversed his opposition to the Bush tax cuts and other policies that deviated from Republican orthodoxy, and who won his party's nomination in part by arguing that he was very similar to Bush.
And Broder adds:
The campaign has been costly in terms of McCain's reputation. He has been condemned for small-minded partisanship, not praised for his generous and important suggestion that the major-party candidates stump the country together, conducting weekly joint town hall meetings–an innovation Obama turned down.
Yes, that is curious. People seem to have judged McCain based on the conduct of his campaign, and not on some non-existent townhall meetings.