Political Hay

Addicted to Liberal Media Acclaim

With Sen. John McCain, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

By 12.16.04

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I can see, some years from now, a group of politicians, sitting on chairs in a circle. One of them has a few traces of white hair, and it is his turn to speak.

"Hi," he says hesitantly. "I'm John McCain, and I am a Liberal Media Acclaim Addict."

"HI JOHN!" everyone else says in unison.

"Well," John continues, "It all started for me when I ran for president in 2000. I think it was in late February, I called Christian conservative leaders like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell 'agents of intolerance' who engage in 'political tactics of division and slander.' After I said that, loads of reporters came up to me and said, 'Congratulations! Well done! Nice going! Speak The Truth! Truth To Power!' I just loved it! The press corps falling all over themselves to treat me like a superstar! My press was great from that minute on.

"So I kept it up. In February of the following year, when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, I expressed doubt about whether the country could afford his tax cut. I offered the usual ruse of the tax cut. My criticism was pretty mild but I was all over the morning and weekend shows. After an appearance on the Today Show, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer confided that they had wanted to throw an after-show party for me, but their producers nixed the idea. Oh, what a rush that was!

"Then came the global warming hearings that I held in the Senate. The media loved that too! The press I got was just wonderful! Yes, the hearings were terribly biased, inviting almost no skeptics of global warming. But I didn't call the hearings with the idea of presenting a balanced picture. The media wouldn't love me if I promoted skeptics, only if I portrayed myself as a crusader. That's what Liberal Media Acclaim Addiction does to you.

"After the 2004 election, I expressed my lack of confidence in Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld. It was like shooting fish in a barrel! The media loved it! They hated the war, and probably hated Rumfeld even more. Kind of hard to blame them when Rumsfeld routinely cleaned their clocks during press conferences. Not like some of them didn't deserve it, though. Anyway, the press went wild! They loved me! I just couldn't get enough!

"But there were warning sings that my addiction was out of control. At one point in early 2004 I was seriously contemplating being Senator John Kerry's vice presidential nominee. That's why I told the Boston Herald that I thought John Kerry 'could rekindle the same campaign magic' that I had 'ignited' during the 2000 race. I gave Kerry effusive praise, saying that 'he's smart, he's tough and he's experienced. He has the capability.' What a crock! Kerry was anything but that! But, hey, could you imagine the press I'd get for having been his Veep nominee? Heck, I could see the New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post calling for my face to be put on Mount Rushmore! And they would have done that on the front page!

"But I never went through with it. The first person I told about my idea was a very close friend who always gives me 'straight talk.' He told me that I was nuts, that the GOP would abandon me, and Republicans in Arizona would revolt. He reminded me that I was also running for reelection in 2004 and that federal law did not allow for me to run for both Senate and Vice President at the same time. If I was Kerry's Veep nominee and Kerry lost, I would be out of power permanently. He told me that I was out of control. Well, it had some effect. I decided that I wanted to be sure that I could get loving attention from the Washington Press Corps whenever I wanted it, and I could stay in the Senate forever from Arizona. So I gave a superhuman effort and declined John Kerry when he did offer the Veep nomination.

"Unfortunately, that last part of his advice didn't stick. I ran for the GOP nomination for president again in 2008. Right before the South Carolina primary, a reporter asked me what I thought of the religious right. I replied, 'Just a bunch of ignorant, intolerant, hypocritical troglodytes who want to turn this country into a theocracy. If you want to know more about what I think just see the stuff by Maureen Dowd, or Bob Herbert, or Paul Krugman in the New York Times.' The press loved it! I was their poster-boy for what a good Republican should be! I even got a congratulatory email from Howell Raines!

"And then the South Carolina Primary happened. You know, there are few better ways to have an ego deflated than to receive 2% of the vote.

"It was then that I realized I was a Liberal Media Acclaim Addict. It was then that I realized I had a problem. And so now I am here, seeking help."

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About the Author

David Hogberg is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.  Follow David Hogberg on Twitter.