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Want to Be Fly on McCain Camp Wall? Pick up NYT Mag

This weekend's NYT Magazine piece on the making and remaking of John McCain reads like a Greek tragedy. "John McCain’s biography has been the stuff of legend for nearly a decade," the lengthy piece points out. "And yet Schmidt and his fellow strategists have had difficulty explaining how America will be better off for electing (as opposed to simply admiring) a stubborn patriot." Throughout the magazine piece, a litany of narratives are identified.

  1. The Heroic Fighters vs. the Quitters: Steve Schmidt, McCain's top adviser, encouraged McCain to denounce the Democrats for advocating a withdrawal of troops — a kind of surrender in the face of victory. Thus did Schmidt initiate the No Surrender Tour late in the summer of 2007.
  2. Country-First Deal Maker vs. Nonpartisan Pretender: The campaign was in the throes of an identity crisis by June 24, when a number of senior strategists gathered at 9:30 a.m. in a conference room of McCain’s campaign headquarters in Arlington. As one participant said later, the meeting was convened “because we still couldn’t answer the question, ‘Why elect John McCain?'"
  3. Leader vs. Celebrity: Eventually, it was Schmidt who blurted out the epiphany concerning Obama. “Face it, gentlemen,” he said. “He’s being treated like a celebrity.” The others grasped the concept — a celebrity like J-Lo! or Britney! — and exultation overtook the room.
  4. Team of Mavericks vs. Old-Style Washington: Well before McCain made his selection, his chief strategist and his campaign manager both concluded that Sarah Palin would be the most dynamic pick.
  5. John McCain vs. John McCain: The flipside to John McCain’s metanarrative of personal valor has always been palpable self-righteousness. In this campaign, his sense of integrity has been doubly offended.
  6. The Fighter (Again) vs. the Tax-and-Spend Liberal: McCain was once again a warrior — only more upbeat, more respectful of his opponent, more empathetic to suffering Americans and far more disapproving of the president.

If McCain pulls this off, the author may have re-write the story. Check out the whole drama if you need some weekend reading!

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