The Press Still Loves John McCain

Jamison Foser

By Jamison Foser

Here’s Chris Cillizza’s explanation for calling John McCain’s eleventy-eighth Sunday show appearance this year (scheduled for Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s This Week) “must-see” television:

Chris Cillizza: I think that McCain still holds serious power within the party despite the fact that he lost the 2008 presidential fight.

He is the best known Republican — with the possible exception of his 2008 ticketmate — in the country and when he speaks on an issue I think there is an audience for what he has to say.

As I wrote this morning, McCain has largely been shut out of the health care debate but I do think that how he positions himself has some influence over how some of his colleagues — particularly the Senate moderates — look at the bill when Congress comes back next month.

Um … What?

Let’s take these explanations in order. “McCain still holds serious power within the party”? Really? When did he ever hold “serious power” within the Republican Party? Even when they nominated him for President, he couldn’t choose his own Vice-Presidential nominee.

There’s an audience for what McCain has to say? Well, that’s true: Washington, DC-based reporters. That has always been his audience.

McCain’s health care positioning may have some influence over how “the Senate moderates” behave? Really? Given that the so-called “moderates” are already digging in their heels in opposition to a public plan, it doesn’t seem like they’re waiting around for McCain to weigh in.

Or perhaps Cillizza thinks McCain is going to come out in favor of a public plan, and bring some so-called “moderates” with him? That would be quite the surprise, given that McCain has been staunchly party-line in his Senate votes this year — even voting with his Republican colleagues more reliably than Mitch McConnell. Yes, the same Mitch McConnell who is the Senate Minority Leader. And more reliably than Jon Kyl, the GOP whip. When you’re a more reliable footsoldier for your party than the person who holds the job of keeping the party in line, you aren’t much of a moderate or a maverick.

I’m sure Cillizza really believes all these reasons. But that doesn’t mean they make the least bit of sense.

Jamison Foser is a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog and research and information center based in Washington, D.C. Foser also contributes to County Fair, a media blog featuring links to progressive media criticism from around the Web as well as original commentary. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or sign up to receive his columns by email.