Press Box

More McSwoonery

Although Valentine’s Day fell on Monday, the press is still delivering candy hearts to John McCain.

The early edition of today’s New York Times flatters McCain with this Page One, above-the-fold photograph: The defiant, clench-jawed candidate punches the air with his fist as the people applaud.

The photo’s over-caption continues the glorification–“Stoking Rebellion Against Attack Politics”–and the under-caption completes it–“Senator John McCain sought to build public resentment yesterday against a withering attack from Gov. George W. Bush and his conservative allies.”

First, the Times must have forgotten that only last week McCain was the outrider of negative campaigning, running a commercial that said George W. Bush “twists the truth like Clinton.” And second, isn’t “conservative allies” an odd characterization for Bush supporters? All the Republican candidates for president have described themselves as conservatives!

Another bit of McSwoonery sweetens the Times’ Page 1. “Bush Campaign Rushes to Refill Dwindling Coffer,” reads the lead story’s headline. How far have those coffers dwindled? To “roughly $20 million.” Deeper in the story, the Times reports that McCain has taken in $4 million from the Internet, including $2.5 million since the New Hampshire primary. Tellingly, the Times doesn’t describe McCain’s loot as being contained in a coffer, which has a sordid, old politics feel to it. Instead, it describes it as Internet money, which is always grassroots! enlightened! and clean!

The Times piece doesn’t say how big McCain’s, um, coffers are, which leaves the reader with an apple and oranges comparison. In any event, if I were running for president, I’d much rather have Bush’s $20 million “problem” than McCain’s Internet riches.