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Jewish World Review April 22, 1999 /5 Iyar 5759

Don Feder

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McCain plays to the media

(JWR) ---- (
IF SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ., is our next president, will his cabinet consist of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Anthony Lewis?

It's become trite to say that the Arizonan is the media's favorite Republican -- trite, but true. News stories and columns on McCain have the ardent and wistful quality of anonymous mash notes from high-school nerds to the prom queen.

I caught up with McCain in Manchester, N.H., before his speech to the Rockingham Republican something or other. The senator, whose adept at ingratiating himself with the media, greeted me with "Good to see you again." It was our first meeting.

Not only are the media McCain's biggest boosters, his agenda is exclusively media-driven.

On Kosovo, McCain's mantra, repeated endlessly on political talk shows, has become: Don't rule out ground forces.

In the Balkans, the media have traded their love beads and peace symbols for flak jackets. That Clinton's war on Yugoslavia is untainted by (selfish) national interest -- a purely humanitarian crusade -- has won the media's approbation.

"Whether or not we should have gotten in is a very legitimate question," McCain admitted to me. But now, "the credibility and future of the United States is at stake."

McCain warns that if we don't defeat this tinhorn tyrant with "antiquated Russian weapons," guys in black hats from Pyongyang to Tripoli will be encouraged to act up.

But we stood up to Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War, even sent in troops.

That didn't deter the Red Chinese, North Koreans or Slobodan Milosevic himself, all of whom have been behaving quite badly.

We could spend the next century galloping around the globe, challenging Third World despots, so that other unsavory characters will quake at the sound of our voice.

But the media long for a ground war in the name of diversity, so McCain is scrapping for a fight.

The senator's supporters are quick to point out that he has respectable conservative credentials (a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 86 percent, which dipped to 68 percent in 1998).

True, but when has McCain ever led the charge for a conservative cause? He's nominally pro-life, but in more than a decade in the Senate, McCain has yet to sponsor a single pro-life amendment.

He's best known for pushing a mega-tax hike to counter the only addiction the media seem interested in fighting (it being another cudgel with which to bludgeon business) and rationing political speech in the guise of campaign reform.

McCain's tobacco bill would have cost taxpayers $50 billion a year and led to the micro-managing of advertising appeals.

The Cato Institute's Robert Levy notes the following irony: We treat flag-burning and gansta rap as protected speech, but under McCain's bill, "If Tiger Woods shows up wearing a jacket emblazoned with a Joe Camel emblem, our new speech guardians will hold the executives of R.J. Reynolds accountable."

His tobacco bill was sparring with the First Amendment. The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform saw the senator as a censorship heavyweight.

Among other provisions, the legislation sought to ban issue-advocacy ads within 60 days of a federal election, at all other times under certain circumstances.

McCain argued that this would limit the ability of those sinister "special interests" to have their way with a supine electorate. Special interests like the National Right to Life Committee, whose members contribute $35 on average?

Politicians don't like criticism. McCain-Feingold would have made it illegal to say "Sen. Kennedy voted against a ban on partial-birth abortions," on the air or in print, within two months of a national election.

Advocacy groups across the spectrum were in an uproar. It's no mean feat to unite National Right to Life and the ACLU, the Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence and the NRA. In this sense, McCain is bringing Americans together.

Limit the ability of interest groups to broadcast their message, and you make the media that much more powerful. Of course The New York Times and networks want to get "special-interest money" out of politics. They resent the competition.

Unfortunately for McCain, the Republican primaries are dominated by conservative activists who have been alternately sneered at and slandered by the media for years. By championing their causes, McCain earned the esteem of the media elite.

Pity Dan Rather doesn't vote in Iowa's Republican caucuses.


4/19/99: NATO would have favored the confederacy
4/14/99: Before we march into Kosovo
4/12/99: Taiwan more worthy of U.S. support
4/09/99: Bauer and Forbes --- Main Street vs. Wall Street
4/05/99: Bubba and Maddy lit Kosovo's fire
3/29/99: At Passover, Egypt is a state of mind
3/29/99: Could the GOP stand Pat in 2000?
3/17/99: Hollywood's party line in 1999
3/15/99: All bow, the court is in session
3/11/99: In praise of negative campaigning
3/09/99: Day-care study defies common sense
3/04/99: Starship Clinton orbits Kosovo
3/01/99: Public will blot out Broaddrick's accusation
2/25/99: Slick Hillie for Senate would be fun
2/23/99: Fascism in the name of fighting fascism
2/16/99: Was anything learned from the impeachment trial?
2/12/99: Educating the democratic voters of tomorrow
2/10/99: First Amendment doesn't apply to pro-life cause
2/08/99: Dems' triumph over Constitution complete
2/03/99: Blood of victims will drown out breakfast prayers
2/01/99: Without a home the heart knows no rest
1/29/99: Poster boy for term-limits
1/27/99: The 'so-what' defense in the City of Saints
1/25/99: Whose choice?
1/21/99: Censure worse than nothing
1/18/99: Words can`t dignify a dishonored presidency
1/13/99: Conservatism "with a heart" is conservatism without a head
1/11/99: If he isn't removed, watch out for Bill!
1/07/99: We can learn a lot from Teddy
1/05/99: Monica and a call to modesty
12/30/98: Will Bubba get away with it again?
12/28/98: Zionist dream alive and well on West Bank
12/18/98: Impeach or abandon the Rule of Law
12/16/98: Clinton moves Middle East closer to war
12/14/98: Why we lost interest in the homeless
12/10/98: No place at table for conservatives
12/07/98: The day America lost its innocence
12/02/98: Pilgrims Pilloried in streets of Plymouth
11/30/98: Caribbean dogpatch not a good candidate for statehood
11/25/98: Will Vermont force gay marriage on the nation?
11/23/98: The ACLU wants your kids to get a love life
11/18/98: Why liberals hate tobacco and guns more than drugs and crime
11/16/98: "Pleasantville" a countercultural morality play
11/13/98: Ads are a tough sell for abortion
11/09/98: Why gutless Republicans lost
11/06/98: Historians against the Constitution
11/02/98: Loving response to a hateful conference
10/28/98: Professor Death will fit right in at Princeton
10/26/98: Plymouth caves to Pilgrim foes
10/21/98: On '98 election, keep a critical eye on polls
10/19/98: Clinton could yet be 'prosperity president'
10/16/98: Working families -- Dems love 'em (stuffed)
10/09/98: Majoring in 'weirdness'
10/07/98: Friends of Billy Clinton
9/29/98: Letter from ex-soldier highlights defense peril
9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
9/18/98: The nation that doesn't exist
9/14/98: Bubba isn't the only one who should be ashamed
9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
9/09/98: We're still just wild about Harry
9/07/98: Mexican banditry didn't end with Pancho Villa
9/02/98: Clinton forgives us!
8/31/98: Ashcroft's plain talking touches responsive chord
8/26/98: Public opinion be damned
8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1999, Creators Syndicate