Squint through the blizzard of coverage about Hillary’s Bosnia gaffe, and you might see the few voices in the US press asking — why are we giving McCain a free ride?

The postmodern presidential candidate: The mainstream news media by and large don’t cover Mr. McCain; they canonize him. Hence the moniker on liberal blogs: St. McCain. What is less obvious, however, is exactly why the press swoons for him. The answer, which says a great deal about both the political press and Mr. McCain, may be that he is something political reporters really haven’t seen in quite a while, perhaps since John F. Kennedy. Seeming to view himself and the whole political process with a mix of amusement and bemusement, Mr. McCain is an ironist wooing a group of individuals who regard ironic detachment more highly than sincerity or seriousness. He may be the first real postmodernist candidate for the presidency — the first to turn his press relations into the basis of his candidacy. — Neal Gabler, NY Times

Why does McCain get off?: We have to start at the source of McCain’s presumptive credibility with journalists. It’s not in any demonstrated mastery of subject matter—on the Middle East, foreign policy, military doctrine, or terrorism—but rather his ease and sense of command during question time with the press, especially as an underdog candidate aboard his bus, the Straight Talk Express. It was never that he was such a straight talker, although he was more willing to criticize his own party than other Republicans. Mostly, he was an open talker, unafraid of the risks, permitting reporters hours and hours of on-the-record Q & A, something that just didn’t happen with other candidates and their tightly controlled scripts. — Jay Rosen, PressThink

McCain Wants You: The presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party has seduced the press and the public with frank confessions of his failings, from his hard-living flyboy days to his adulterous first marriage to the Keating Five scandal. But in both legislation and rhetoric, Mr. McCain has consistently sought to restrict the very freedoms he once exercised, in the common national enterprise of “serving a cause greater than self-interest.” Such sentiment can sound stirring coming from a lone citizen freely choosing public service. But from a potential president, Mr. McCain’s exaltation of sacrifice over the private pursuit of happiness — “I did it out of patriotism, not for profit,” he snarled to Mitt Romney during the final Republican presidential debate — reflects a worryingly militaristic view of citizenship. — Matt Welch, NY Times

The Right Choice?: Barack Obama is no conservative. Yet if he wins the Democratic nomination, come November principled conservatives may well find themselves voting for the senator from Illinois. Given the alternatives—and the state of the conservative movement—they could do worse. — Andrew J. Bacevich, The American Conservative

Cool it: Two things have become obvious about the state of the Democratic nomination for president. The first is that the stars haven’t been better aligned for Democrats to win the White House since FDR crushed Hoover in 1932. The second is that six more weeks of attacks and counterattacks between the Clinton and Obama campaigns will move them perilously close to accomplishing the otherwise unimaginable job of giving the Republicans another term in the White House. — Bob Beckel, RealClearPolitics

Would Clinton prefer McCain?: Even some Clinton loyalists are wondering aloud if the win-at-all-costs strategy of Hillary and Bill — which continued Tuesday when Hillary tried to drag Rev. Wright back into the spotlight — is designed to rough up Obama so badly and leave the party so riven that Obama will lose in November to John McCain. If McCain only served one term, Hillary would have one last shot. On Election Day in 2012, she’d be 65. Why else would Hillary suggest that McCain would be a better commander in chief than Obama, and why else would Bill imply that Obama was less patriotic — and attended by more static — than McCain? — Maureen Dowd, New York Times

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey