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MCCAIN'S WILD POPULARITY WITH THE MEDIA IS NOT NEW | 2000-03-04

To be a respectable conservative, you turn in your memory at the gate. So everybody is saying that the love for McCain in the national media is something new. The press is more enthusiastic about McCain than they are about liberal Democrats. For the liberal press to be more in love with a Republican than with liberal Democrats is supposed to be something new.

It isn't. It is just that, since Reagan, Republicans have not had a person the media COULD love the way they love McCain. But McCain offers the press something that no liberal Democrat can offer them: control of the OPPOSITION. I was in the political arena back when the press had liberal Republicans to do their fighting for them. I remember when the press loved the liberal Republican Nelson Rockefeller more than they did any liberal Democrat except Kennedy, and that was only because Kennedy was the President of the United States while Rockefeller was only the governor of New York.

In 1961, the press position was represented by a columnist who said, "Rockefeller stands as much chance of losing the 1964 Republican nomination as he does of going broke." Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania and other liberal Republicans had a press every bit as good as that for McCain today.

The reason for this wild popularity of yesterday's liberal Republicans and today's McCain is that one John McCain or one liberal Republican is worth several times as much to liberals as an outright liberal Democrat is. Liberals want to cut off corporate contributions and leave unions free to use their members' dues to back liberals. They want the media to have more influence and grassroots money to have less. That is what the McCain -Feingold proposal does.

But the simple fact is that McCain-Feingold can spare Feingold. There are dozens of other liberal Democrats ready to sponsor this bill to favor liberal Democrats. But McCain-Feingold would be lost without a McCain to push it.

Even more important, the anti-nationalist foreign policy of using troops and bombs to enforce multiculturalism abroad is opposed by conservatives. Without McCain, it would be a purely liberal policy. But McCain makes it bipartisan. If they could nominate McCain, there would be no major opposition to anything liberals choose to do abroad.

If McCain can get some Americans killed in Europe in the name of multiculturalism, most conservatives will jump on board. To most conservatives, any cause in which American soldiers get killed becomes a holy cause. Conservatives make no distinction between the heroism of American troops and the policies they are sent to enforce. If liberals get Americans killed for their policies, conservatives will declare those liberal policies to be holy.

In Vietnam, conservatives started out saying that we should either fight to win or get out. At first, conservatives said that Americans troops were not just tokens to be spent in a hopeless, no-win war.

But by the end of that war, conservatives were blindly backing the endless bloodbath in Indo-China.

Conservatives have no memory, but liberals remember all of that. That is why the media is crazy about McCain, and why they were just as crazy about Nelson Rockefeller.