Losing the pundits, one by one

LOSING THE PUNDITS, ONE BY ONE…. John McCain worked pretty hard, over the course of many years, to earn the adulation of major media figures. This year, he’s working equally hard to drive them away.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen fairly strong denunciations of McCain from Time’s Joe Klein, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, and the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman. Today, it looks like the Washington Post’s Sebastian Mallaby, hardly a reflexive liberal, has joined the club.

….McCain’s swipe at Obama’s tax plan was something other than straight talk. As a share of the economy, Obama’s plan would create an overall tax burden similar to the one that existed in Ronald Reagan’s time. It would not choke off job creation; rather, it would slow the growth of the deficit and soften inequality. But the really depressing thing is that McCain himself once knew that. He opposed the Bush tax cuts before he supported them, saying that they would deepen inequality. But now he touts a tax reduction that is larger and more radical than even President Bush proposed, and he slams his opponent for holding the view that he himself held until recently.

McCain used to be a real straight talker. On campaign finance, spending earmarks, Iraq and immigration, he has fought bravely for his principles; and that record might have been a trump against an opponent who has taken almost no such risks. But we are now witnessing what might be called McCain’s Palinization. McCain once criticized Christian conservatives as agents of intolerance, but he has caved in to their intolerance of a pro-choice running mate. McCain claims to be devoted to his country, yet he would saddle it with a vice president who is unprepared to serve as commander in chief. In the same sad way, McCain has caved in to his party’s anti-tax fanatics. The man of principle has become a panderer. The straight talker flip-flops.

Now, I suspect the response from the McCain campaign would be something along the lines of accusing Mallaby of media elitism, no matter how sympathetic Mallaby has been to McCain over the years.

Regardless, Mallaby’s op-ed is spot-on, and his work often helps shape the conventional wisdom. Here’s hoping others start noticing that the “man of principle has become a panderer.”