This Sunday brought its usual oversized Frank Rich column, "McCain's Suspension Bridge to Nowhere," hitting John McCain hard for asking for a postponement of the first presidential debate, or as Rich would have it, toying "so selfishly with our national interest at a time of crisis." As usual, Rich threw out a number of assertions, many flat-wrong like his insinuation McCain has withheld his medical records (unlike, say, John Kerry, who has withheld his Vietnam War records from the public?).
Rich may still be peeved that the McCain campaign, angered by a misleading editorial scolding him for not releasing his medical records (something the paper has evidently yet to demand of Barack Obama), refused to let Times reporters into the press conference in which reporters were allowed to examine McCain's medical records. However, twenty other reporters were allowed to pour over the documents, and the Times pronounced in a front-page headline May 24: "McCain's Health Is Called Robust By His Doctors."
Keeping with Rich's pop-culture mindset, Rich lauded as new journalistic heroes the brave truth-tellers of...ABC's chat show "The View."
What we learned last week is that the man who always puts his "country first" will take the country down with him if that's what it takes to get to the White House....Once others eventually forged a path out of the wreckage, he'd inflate, if not outright fictionalize, his own role in cleaning up the mess his mischief helped make. Or so he hoped, until his ignominious retreat.
The question is why would a man who forever advertises his own honor toy so selfishly with our national interest at a time of crisis. I'll leave any physiological explanations to gerontologists - if they can get hold of his complete medical records - and any armchair psychoanalysis to the sundry McCain press acolytes who have sorrowfully tried to rationalize his erratic behavior this year.
Much of the press paid lip service to McCain's new "suspension" as it had to its prototype. In truth, the only campaign activity McCain did drop was a Wednesday evening taping with David Letterman. Don't mess with Dave. Picking up where the "The View" left off in speaking truth to power, the uncharacteristically furious host hammered the absent McCain on and off for 40 minutes, repeatedly observing that the cancellation "didn't smell right."
That's a reference to Rich's September 21 column, "Truthiness Makes a Comeback," (the headline is a reference to "The Daily Show," yet another TV program. Let no one say the man lacks depth!). There, he crowned co-host Joy Behar the next Edward R. Murrow:
You know the press is impotent at unmasking this truthiness when the hardest-hitting interrogation McCain has yet faced on television came on "The View." Barbara Walters and Joy Behar called him on several falsehoods, including his endlessly repeated fantasy that Palin opposed earmarks for Alaska. Behar used the word "lies" to his face. The McCains are so used to deference from "the filter" that Cindy McCain later complained that "The View" picked "our bones clean." In our news culture, Behar, a stand-up comic by profession, looms as the new Edward R. Murrow.