Former White House reporter Elisabeth Bumilleris on the campaign trail after writing a book on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but Monday's "Once a Thorn, McCain Now Courts a Wary Party" betrayed some ignorance about the nature of past opposition to McCain.
At least she's honest about McCain's base:
He says he is not enough of a masochist to listen to Rush Limbaugh. He jokes at a Republican dinner about a looming foreign policy crisis: "I have a four-hour speech on the North Korean nuclear buildup that I know you've been waiting for." And he still treats the media as his No. 1 constituency, plying them with nonstop talk and stories, like one about a date from his Navy days who cleaned her nails with a switchblade.
But in enveloping himself in the Republican cloak, Mr. McCain, his aides acknowledge, risks the outsider status that appeals to the independents and Democrats he might need to win in November.
Mr. McCain learned that the hard way: The maverick who ran against George W. Bush in 2000 headed into the 2008 race with all the expensive accouterments of the front-runner, only to lose some of his political identity when he embraced evangelicals and the Republican orthodoxy of tax cuts, not to mention an unpopular war. By last summer Mr. McCain's campaign had all but collapsed and he was flying into New Hampshire alone to meet with small clutches of voters.
Bumiller is trying to suggest McCain's support collapsed when he began appealing to conservatives. Actually, it was his strong support of amnesty for illegal immigrants (a liberal issue) that initially cost him dearly among Republicans.
"Mr. McCain's television commercial, which began showing Friday on cable channels across the country, depicts him as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and then in a meeting with President Ronald Reagan, the Republican standard-bearer worshiped by conservatives."
Has the Times ever suggesting John F. Kennedy was "worshiped by liberals"? A Nexis search indicates not.