As a West Wing junkie (at least for the first three or four seasons, via DVD!) I’m really tickled by the fiction-meets-reality of the current kerfuffle about whether McLame voted for Bush in 2000, as reported by the NYT. Arianna made the charge on Monday:
On her Huffington Post Web site on Monday, Ms. Huffington, the liberal blogger, said she had heard Mr. McCain say at a Los Angeles dinner party shortly after the 2000 election that he had not voted for the president he has now publicly embraced in his own quest for the White House.
The McLame campaign begged to differ:
“She’s a flake and a poser and an attention-seeking diva,” Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest aides, told The Washington Post.
So far, so usual. We’re starting to see the little cracks in the McCain facade, most of which are distinctly fishier than not voting for Bush. The land deals, the secret family tax returns, the manifest contradictions between the talk and the walk on everything from mortage-crisis aid to education for GIs. The McCain krew are starting to adjust to the fact that they have lost an ideal democratic opponent, despite the O’Reillyites best efforts to reverse the democratic verdict in Indiana (which appears to have succeeded—the final margin was a bit over 11,000 votes, well within the extrapolation from the number of self-professed republican Clinton voters who claimed in exit polling that will not vote democrat in November). What they don’t understand quite yet is the unflashy but extraordinarily durable power of a candidate who sticks to his truth.
In the case of the immediate issue, a few experts have been stepping forward to back up her story. Brad Whitford and Richard Schiff, better known as Josh Lyman and Toby Zeigler, deputy White House Chief of Staff and Communications Director, respectively, for President Martin Sheen (the best president we’ve had in a long time), both remember McCain saying he didn’t vote for Bush in 2000. Brad was sitting at the same table:
Mr. Whitford, who played Josh Lyman, the deputy White House chief of staff on the NBC series, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that he was sitting across from Mr. McCain and next to Ms. Huffington at the small dinner and that he was startled to hear the senator sharply criticize Mr. Bush. The senator has long blamed the Bush campaign for smear tactics against his family in the 2000 South Carolina primary, but by the end of the campaign Mr. McCain was publicly supporting his rival.
“McCain was just sort of going off on how much he disliked Bush and the horrible things that the Bush campaign had done to his family in South Carolina, and his exasperation with Bush about his ridiculous tax cuts and he really wanted to talk to him about it, but he said the guy doesn’t have the concentration, and you talk for 10 minutes and then the guy wants to talk about baseball,” Mr. Whitford said.
Another guest then asked Mr. McCain, Mr. Whitford recalled, whether he had voted for Mr. Bush. “And he put his finger in front of his mouth and mouthed, ‘No way,’ ” Mr. Whitford said.
Toby, I mean Richard, was sitting at the next table, so we can discount his supporting evidence, plus everyone knows he’s always very preoccupied with evolving speeches and with his complicated personal life.
Unfortuntately, Whitford’s testimony sounds too much like the sane opinion of a normal non-candidate, not to mention a guy who’s adoptive family, which is not lily-white, had been made into primary campaign fodder by George W in that very receptive state of South Carolina.
All we need now is for CJ (Allison Janney) to plant a question at the daily gaggle about whether President Bartlet has anything to say about McCain’s apparent inconsistency.
What’s actually not quite so funny is his instinct to lie about it. We’ve had quite enough of that over the last couple of terms…