Monday, April 28, 2008

Jet-Gate Proves Once Again, McCain PWNS The Media

The N.Y. Times story about Senator John McCain's use of his wife's corporate jet starting last summer has gotten quite a bit of attention in the last couple of days. The consensus from the mainstream media is that McCain followed the letter but not the spirit of the law. If you watch the talking heads on television they will harrumph about the shady ethics this story demonstrates and quickly shift the topic over to the Jeremiah Wright controversy. It is the safest bet possible that Jeremiah Wright coverage will dominate the news and we will be hard pressed to find any coverage at all on Jet-Gate in the mainstream media.

The fact is that Jet-Gate would prove to be disastrous if Senator Obama were caught in such a circumstance, and following are several reasons why.

First, as noted by ABC on August 24, 2007 (August '07 was the month in which McCain started using his wife's corporate jet), "Early in the campaign McCain pledged he wouldn't take flights on private corporate planes."

Despite this pledge, the jet McCain was using even as that story hit the wires was, according to the N.Y. Times report, owned by "Hensley & Company, through a holding company, King Aviation. Mrs. McCain is the chairwoman of Hensley, which is one of the country’s biggest distributors of Anheuser-Busch products." This could not be clearer. McCain was tooling about in a corporate jet which he had access to because of his wife.

McCain thinks he can score political points by insisting that Obama uphold a supposed pledge to only accept public financing in the general election, which pledge Obama never actually made. Just imagine the uproar from the McCain campaign (and of course Senator Clinton would be adding volume to the Republican assault on Obama) if it turned out that Obama skirted federal election law while breaking a pledge from early in the campaign. There can be no doubt that the talking heads would be savaging Obama over such a transgression. But when McCain does this type of thing, you have to scan the lefty blogosphere for any real commentary on the event because the mainstream media can't get over their Wright obsession.

Here is another way that this story shows that the media just adore McCain. You may remember back when McCain's campaign was down and out and there was a flood of media stories about the shoestring operation which he had been reduced to. Here's one example of a cream puff story by a local reporter in New Hampshire:
[T]he Straight Talk Express bus has been sidelined due to a lack of campaign money.

McCain... is flying commercial to campaign stops in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and he travels with the smallest cadre of aides.

[McCain] is enjoying the leaner campaign that requires him, literally, to carry his own bags
This story was filed on August 10, 2007... which just so happens to be the very month in which McCain started using his wife's corporate jet. Believe you me, this wasn't the only story about McCain's becoming the commoner in his travel schedule. There were stories about him standing in line waiting to catch a flight, campaign supporters giving him rides from the airport to campaign events because the campaign could not afford local transportation... and so on and so forth.

It is now very apparent that McCain was able to foster an image as the hard scrabble shoestring budget campaigner. As soon as that image had settled into the media narrative, he started accepting perks from his wealthy wife that hardly matched the narrative, but were there any stories about John breezing around the country on a corporate jet? Of course the answer to that question is a resounding no. So it's a big story when McCain makes a show of traveling coach and carrying his own luggage, but no reporters seem to notice for the next several months that he is mysteriously arriving at events without having traveled with the little people. Did the reporters think that McCain was being beamed to his destination, or did they lose interest once McCain started breaking campaign pledges and benefiting from the largess of his wildly wealthy spouse?

In fact, McCain has used these supposed campaign travails to demonstrate that he is in touch with everyday working folk. As recently as April 22 he was in Ohio telling the crowd that his roughing it early on meant that he felt their pain in struggling from paycheck to paycheck. The difference here is that when McCain didn't want to struggle along like the working poor do, he could place a call to Cindy and have a corporate jet at his beckoning. The working poor don't have such a luxury. McCain says that his campaign was given a second chance, but now it turns out that he called in his wealthy wife when the chips were down.

The only thing that could have been more dishonest is if Cindy had made a big show of helping McCain carry his luggage through the terminals and hitch rides to campaign events immediately prior to opening her purse and helping grease the wheels to the Republican nomination.

Oh yeah... since I'm already giving Cindy McCain the what for, let me end by asking the reader one simple question. What do you think would have happened if Michelle Obama had been caught plagiarizing recipes, and posting them on as "family favorites"?

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