John McCain made the front page in both Saturday's and Sunday's editions of the Washington Post. This is the first obvious sign of how the 2008 race will play out: once again, the liberal media will put Sen. McCain on a fluffy bed of pillows and carry his platform around while he feeds them donuts. They never seem to understand that their constant championing of him poisons what mild appeal McCain might have with the conservative base.
Satuday's story by Tom Edsall and Chris Cillizza was headlined "Money's Going to Talk in 2008." McCain's name was not in the first paragraphs of that story, but it was illustrated with a photo of McCain at this weekend's Memphis dog-and-pony show, and the caption explained "The Arizonan praised President Bush and muddied a straw poll by telling his supporters to write in Bush's name instead." (Edsall and Cillizza were talking about the big money-stakes this time around. Dan Balz had the McCain story from Memphis.)
On Sunday, the front-page headline was "McCain Tests New Road to Nomination: 2000's GOP Rebel Incorporates Support for Bush Into Quest for Change." Balz said "no one stole the show" in Memphis, but McCain should be seen as the Big Obstacle, as he demonstated "why every other prospective 2008 presidential candidate must figure out how to get around him." Perhaps that's because the media will make everyone go around him and the media, otherwise known as "the wind beneath his wings."
Balz employed the "race is wide open" conventional wisdom, and added, "McCain has been making inroads with the party establishment and with Bush loyalists since backing the president vigorously in 2004. But there are still questions about whether he can truly win the hearts of a party, particularly its most ardent conservatives, that he offended so often as a candidate in 2000." He did not list the times that McCain has offended conservatives in the six years since.
UPDATE: On Monday's online politics chat at Washingtonpost.com, Dan Balz charms a leftist who writes in with Paul Krugman quotes, alleging that McCain is really "hard right," not a moderate Republican's dream:
"Thanks, Blue State, for a good question. No question that McCain has very conservative views, not just on national security policy but also on social issues. His reputation as a maverick comes from two things. One, he has irritated many of his Republican colleagues over the years by cooperating with Democrats on things like campaign finance reform and by his attacks on pork barrel spending. Two, the press has often overlook some of the contractions between his rhetoric and his voting record. I remember in 2000 he used to complain about tax cuts even though he voted for many of them. All that said, McCain has shown streaks of independence from his party leadership.