Wednesday, May 21, 2008

when will we ever learn?

Even the ever shrewd Steve Benen takes this story at face value:

Last summer, Mark McKinnon, the former chief media adviser to George W. Bush, and now a top aide to John McCain’s presidential campaign, admitted that he liked Barack Obama so much, he didn’t want to work on the campaign running against Obama and he wouldn’t create negative ads against the Illinois senator if he became the Democratic nominee.

Of course, that was easy to say at the time. A year ago, McCain’s campaign was in deep trouble, and Obama still seemed like a relative long-shot. Given that we’re talking about a top-tier politico who was Bush’s top media guy, I assumed he’d come up with some excuse to change his mind.

I assumed wrong. Chris Cillizza reports that McKinnon actually meant it.

Mark McKinnon, the lead media consultant for Sen. John McCain’s (Ariz.) presidential bid, is stepping down from that role — making good on a pledge he made last year not to work against Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in the fall campaign.

McKinnon confirmed his decision to The Fix this afternoon. “I’ll be transitioning, shifting position from linebacker to head cheerleader,” said the always-colorful McKinnon. He added that he would continued to be a “friend and fan” to the campaign.

McKinnon is not just some low-level staffer — he’s been responsible for shaping McCain’s media strategy. He’s also a trusted member of McCain’s inner circle and Cillizza added that “many within the campaign acknowledged that losing him would be a heavy blow to the effort.”

And now he’s leaving the playing field to watch from the sidelines, because he just likes Obama that much.

OH, Steve, Steve, come on! I listened to Cokie Roberts try to spin the various lobbyist departures of the past week over at NPR. At first she explained that lobbyists were no big deal since they were (apparently) the only people who ever knew anything about "policy", the drafting thereof or about fundraising. Then she excused McCain by saying that after all most of the lobbyists had transitioned full time to his campaign, or were returning full time to their previous jobs. But at the very end, almost under her breath, she said (basically, I don't have the transcript) "of course, the thing to watch is that they are leaving because they don't think he can win." To which the NPR interlocutor who had been hanging worshipfully on her every word said "oh! something to watch!"

Ya think? Maybe Mark McKinnon has had a serious change of heart about his preferred candidate but lets get real. For an actual political person, close to politics and to policy making, there is simply no way you change your job and your political support because you "like" one person better than another. Remember how at the start of this campaign we were all laughing about the idiots being interviewed who would say "you know, I could go for either Obama or McCain because they are both so mavericky?" No sane person with the slightest grasp of reality said that. And no person who has ever been close to actual political activity, either. You are either changing parties because you are changing your own views of what is good politics and policy or you are simply trying to put a good face on the fact that you are refusing to tie your political and economic fortunes to a losing candidate.