We’re starting to see the wheels come off of the Straight Talk Express. I long admired McCain as the sort of guy with whom I’d agree about little, but respect for his honesty and frankness. But gradually, over the last couple of years, I saw him turn his back on his beliefs without explanation (and often, denying that he’d changed his mind at all). Now he and his campaign have begun lying, openly and repeatedly. That’s a terribly dangerous tactic when coupled with the McCain campaign’s new tactic, announced loudly at the convention a couple of weeks ago—attacking the media as unfair and biased. What McCain had going for him for years was that many liked and admired him. He provided an amazing level of access to reporters, talking with them candidly, one-on-one, at length. That practice ended a few months ago, and the campaign has openly declared war on the media that made McCain’s image as a “maverick.” McCain and Palin are hoping that they can lie—openly, brazenly, and repeatedly—and that the average voter won’t catch on between now and November.
Richard Cohen writes about this transition in the Post, in what I think marks an important moment in the McCain campaign’s relationship with the media. If McCain was disappointed with himself for lying during the 2000 campaign, he’ll be crushed for his behavior this time around. I certainly expected better.