Is Hagel the New McCain?

Posted: Jan 30, 2007 8:32 AM

Jim Pinkerton of Newsday writes:

"It's official: Chuck Hagel is the new John McCain, getting the glowing treatment from glam publications such as GQ. And John McCain is the new Bob Dole - and we know what kind of press Dole got. Perhaps I should explain.

Once upon a time - say, five years ago - the liberal media were infatuated with McCain. Yes, the Republican senator from Arizona was a hard-line conservative on most matters, but he was sufficiently unorthodox on a few issues (campaign finance, global warming, tax cuts) to be newsworthy. In addition, McCain was enough of a George W. Bush basher to keep reporters interested in what he might say next.

... So say goodbye to the media's portrayal of "St. John" McCain, the flinty, brave maverick. And say hello, instead, to a new "Bob Dole-ized" McCain. Like the Kansas Republican, who, as a 70-something, was mostly portrayed during the 1996 presidential campaign as a cranky and ranting old man, the 70-year-old Arizonan is being portrayed that way now."

There is no doubt this is true, but it is also a necessary change if John McCain is going to be the Republican nominee. I've long suspected that McCain's effusive press coverage (he admitted that the media was his "base") was one of the primary reasons that many conservatives don't trust him. Ironically, I think some conservatives may even rally to his defense when he is predictably lampooned by the media.  I can see the bumper stickers now: "Annoy the Press: Vote McCain!"

But the establishment media's play isn't to stop John McCain from winning the GOP nomination -- it's to elect a Democrat in the General Election.  A battered McCain will need all those Independent voters if he's going to beat Hillary or Obama ... And that's where this becomes a problem for him ...

But how about the theory that Chuck Hagel is on the rise?

Personally, I think he's a flash in the pan. A fad, even. But maybe I'm wrong ...

Pinketron ends the column by saying:

"All of which means there's a chance for Hagel to follow in the footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt in 1912: He could bolt the GOP and run a credible independent bid for the White House. He might even win."

I wouldn't bet on it.