Whither McCain Goeth …

“I think it is fair to say that they won the war and lost the peace.”John McCain on what the Associated Press called his first (but Sydney Schanberginsists was his second) return trip to Vietnam. Quoted in the March 11, 1985, issue of U.S. News & World Report.

“They won the war but lost the peace.”John McCain on his eighth return trip to Vietnam. Quoted in the April 25, 2000, issue of Salon.

Chatterbox doesn’t really blame John McCain for not having something new to say every time he revisits Vietnam with reporters in tow. But he does wonder why the press continues to regard these visits as news. In what is billed as a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam War’s end (but seems more like a commemoration of the 15th anniversary of McCain’s 1985 visit with Walter Cronkite), McCain is this week touring Vietnam on NBC’s nickel with Matt Lauer of the Today show and Christopher Matthews of Hardball. Apparently Jake Tapper of Salon is there, too (he’s filing daily), along with Greg Myre and Tini Tran of the Associated Press, Tom Mintier of CNN, Patrick McMahon of USA Today, Howard Fineman of Newsweek, and no doubt a few others who haven’t yet been heard from. Even assuming that one or two of these folks didn’t go to Hanoi expressly to cover McCain’s trip, that seems excessive. NBC News and its cable outlets devoted so much airtime to McCain’s candidacy that reporters riding the Straight Talk Express began to wonder whether McCain was a subsidiary of General Electric. But at least McCain was a candidate then. Though the entourage has thinned somewhat, reporters continue to trail McCain as he Returns to the Senate, Returns to South Carolina (click here to read Mickey Kaus’ excellent analysis of McCain’s Confederate flag apology), and now, Returns to ‘Nam. Perhaps it’s time they formed a support group.

[Update, April 27: In today’s New York Daily News, Mitchell Fink reports that Roger Simon of U.S. News & World Report, David Hume Kennerly of Time, and Tucker Carlson of Talk are also in McCain’s Vietnam entourage. Also, today’s New York Times carries a Hanoi-datelined piece by Mark Landler about McCain’s April 26 visit to the Hoa Lo prison. (The Page One photo “reefering” this story is a Reuters pickup.) Chatterbox wants to know: Where the hell is National Public Radio?] 

[Update, April 27, later that day: Also in McCain’s Vietnam entourage are Richard Cohen of the Washington Post and Jay Carney of Time magazine. Also, a correction: Christopher Matthews is not traveling with McCain in Vietnam, and there will be no Hardball broadcast featuring McCain in Saigon. (Apparently, it’s been canceled.) Finally, there is no truth to the rumor that 20/20 will tonight air live from the Hanoi Hilton a McCain interview with ABC News special correspondent Donato “the Fisherman” Dalrymple.]