Press Backpedals, Prez Peddles, Bloggers Puzzle

At The Captain’s Quarters, Captain Ed goes Campaign Desk today, pounding the press for its coverage of the John-McCain-as-potential-Kerry-VP story. “The media,” Captain writes, “notably the [Washington] Post and the New York Times, magnified this Democratic fantasy and gave it a life of its own, hoping that the momentum of the story would carry it to reality.” Now that McCain has scheduled a Bush campaign appearance — and outside Arizona — the Captain concludes, “that fantasy is dead, and the media needs to cover [its] retreat.” He points to a piece in today’s Washington Post — headlined, “McCain, Bush Begin to Mend Ties” — as “merely the bugle call; the rest of the media will provide the story of the heartwarming rapprochement in the coming weeks.”

There is no heartwarming rapprochement in sight for right-leaning bloggers Andrew Sullivan and Jonah Goldberg, who are butting heads over Bush. Goldberg, Sullivan writes, is arguing that “worrying about Bush’s fiscal record when he’s fighting the war on terror may be legitimate but shouldn’t bar anyone from supporting Bush.” But, while Sullivan says he is “far from being persuaded that Kerry can do any better in the war…I cannot support this president on the war as enthusiastically as I once did.” Sullivan sounds positively heartsick as he elaborates: “I’ve certainly paid more of a price in my own social world for backing this president than Jonah ever has in his. My only dilemma now is whether to support Kerry or sit this one out.”

Electablog’s David Pell talks back to the Bush brain trust today and explains the strategy behind the president’s comments at a press conference on Tuesday. Pell quotes Bush as saying, “I look forward to the debates where people are saying, ‘Oh gosh, the world would be better off if Saddam Hussein were still in power.’” To which Pell replies: “Ultimately the election will be framed by voters who [ask]: ‘Oh gosh, would the world would be better off if Bush were not still in power?’” Pell accuses Bush of an attempt to “reduce complex policies and controversial actions down to a single phrase that you believe cannot be disputed.” News tip for Pell: that’s what politicians do.

Further reducing the complex to the simple, we turn now to a centuries-old question currently confounding male bloggers: What Do Women Want? (Or in this case, what do women find sexy in a man?) For your convenience, we provide the following summary of the debate:

Eugene Volokh appears to have kicked off the conversation by speculating on why women make more of an effort to be attractive than men do. Andrew Sullivan says the “real cause of men’s slovenliness is: women.” (Women are “too forgiving of slobbiness.”) Instapundit, apparently stunned into silence by this one, provides commentary-free links to the aforementioned posts. Like Instapundit, Wonkette! is thus far inexplicably mum on the topic. And Matthew Yglesias is “personally… very much against women raising their standards.”

And what, exactly, does “what women find sexy” have to do with the presidential campaigns? Maybe nothing. Then again, maybe a lot. As the press continues to remind us, single women are this year’s sexiest swing voters.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.