AP Publishes McCain-Bashing Bailout Piece Olbermann Should Love

The Associated Press's Charles Babington, the journalist Keith Olbermann attacked in August for having the nerve to criticize Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention, wrote a McCain-bashing article Thursday evening that should get a standing ovation from the "Countdown" host.

The piece entitled "Dems, Some in GOP Question McCain's Intervention" probably evoked so much applause from the Obama campaign and Congressional Democrats Thursday night that they must have wondered if their operatives wrote it.

In fact, when you look at the first eight paragraphs of this article, you'll also likely think someone in either the Obama campaign or Howard Dean's office was responsible (emphasis added, photo courtesy AP):

Sen. John McCain's self-portrait as a bold leader willing to set politics aside to save an endangered financial bailout plan took a pounding Thursday from top Democrats and even some fellow Republicans.

His efforts to re-energize his presidential campaign will partly turn on who wins the public relations battle, destined to play out for days. Things didn't go too well for McCain on Thursday.

Top Democrats in Congress ridiculed his role after a chaotic end to a White House summit meeting that McCain had requested, and which included Democratic nominee Barack Obama. McCain's own campaign said the session "devolved into a contentious shouting match."

The campaign statement suggested Obama was at fault. But Democrats were disdainful.

"John McCain did nothing to help," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who attended the meeting. "He only hurt the process."

Hours later, when negotiations hastily resumed in the Capitol, House Republicans refused to send a representative authorized to bargain.

"This is the president's own party," said Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, a chief Democratic negotiator. "I don't think a president has been repudiated so strongly by the congressional wing of his own party in a long time."

"We still don't know whether Sen. McCain works with them or not," he added.

Almost reads like one of Olbermann's "Special Comments," or a diary at Daily Kos, as if there's any difference.

For the record, not everyone in the media saw things as one-sided as Babington, as Marc Ambinder of the left-leaning Atlantic reported Thursday: 

Though Sen. Chris Dodd implied that Sen. McCain sandbagged the rest of the negotiators by bringing up alternative proposals, McCain himself did not bring up those proposals, according to four independent sources briefed by four different principals inside the meeting, including two Republicans and two Democrats.

"McCain has not attacked the Paulson deal," said a third Republican who was briefed by McCain direclty. "Unlike the [Democrats] in the [White House] meeting, he didn't raise his voice or cause a ruckus. He is urging all sides to come together."

Republicans like John Boehner brought up the concerns of House GOPers and McCain acknowledged hearing about their concerns.  And McCain, and staffers, did seek to gauge the level of support of the GOP working group's white paper. The Democrats were left with the impression that McCain endorsed the GOP efforts, but they concede that he did not raise them directly.

The fact is that Boehner doesn't have 100 votes from his conference -- 100 votes that Nancy Pelosi really wants. And that's not McCain's fault.  

For those interested, here's my opinion of Thursday's events that most in the media seem to be missing: the bailout bill never had the Republican support Bush and Paulson expected. There were reports out earlier in the week that Paulson had a meeting with Congressional Republicans to discuss the plan, and only four people showed up.

Not a good sign.

As it became clear to Paulson that Republicans weren't backing his plan, he called Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urging him to bring McCain back to Washington in order to broker a deal the GOP could get behind. As a new plan was put forth Thursday, Democrats saw this as an opportunity to undermine McCain by creating the illusion he was to blame for the negotiations breaking down.

Democrat after Democrat was sent before cameras, microphones, and tape recorders to belittle the Senator from Arizona and create the appearance that the financial bailout took a wrong turn due to his appearance at the negotiating table.

Now, with the deal seemingly dead, the Democrats are saying they're behind the Paulson plan. If it succeeds, they can take all the credit; if it dies, they can blame it completely on McCain and the Republican party.

As much as it saddens me to say this, it appears for the moment that McCain and the GOP on Thursday were played like a fiddle by the Democrat leadership.

Stay tuned.

Campaign Watch Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential MSNBC Countdown Associated Press Henry Paulson Charles Babington
Noel Sheppard's picture