February 17, 2008


A smiling, fidgeting McCain, learning to rein himself in (Mark Leibovich, February 17, 2008, NY Times)

Senator John McCain was sitting in the front of his fancy-pants front-runner's plane, trying to get comfortable. He fidgeted, occasionally lapsing into un-McCainlike blandness: "There is a process in place that will formalize the methodology," he said in describing how his free-form campaign style will assume the discipline expected of a probable Republican standard-bearer.

The position is unnatural to McCain, who has typically floundered when not playing the insurgent role. But now he is in the midst of an at-times awkward transition — from being one of the most disruptive figures in his party to someone playing it safer, not to mention trying to make nice with Republicans he clearly despises and who feel similarly about him.

"I'm trying to unify the party," he says a lot these days, as if reminding himself. He is trying to remain "Johnny B. Goode" (the song blares over a loudspeaker at some McCain rallies), giving relatively cautious answers and trying to rein in his pugnacity, if not his wisecracks.

He needs to forget about the Right, they'll follow him whether they like it or not. Time to concentrate on the general and pretend to be the underdog facing overwhelming odds, which is when he's most natural and appealing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 17, 2008 9:33 AM

A Republican Party in which John McCain is one of the most disruptive figures is a remarkably unified party.

Posted by: Ibid at February 17, 2008 10:46 AM

fancy-pants front-runner's plane

Huh? Ah, the NYT being objective again.

Posted by: pchuck at February 17, 2008 12:24 PM

Do the authors add these asides themselves or is that the job of the propaganda editor's desk.

Posted by: erp at February 17, 2008 2:53 PM

"fancy-pants front-runner's plane"

Sounds like something Dowdy slipped in.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 17, 2008 9:43 PM