Reporter Tells Epic Tale Of How She Has LIMITED PRESS ACCESS To Walnuts
My friends, this election is not what you think it is. It is not about choosing between two candidates (AND RON PAUL WRITE-IN 4 LBRTY) for the next president. Ha! This election has always been about something more fundamentally innate to the American ethos: how easily newspaper reporters can get access to John McCain on his bus or plane between stops. And in today'sLos Angeles Times, one reporter examines her world-historical role in this tragic Sophoclean drama about the will of the Human against the cultural and political and naturalistic forces of the Gods, who sometimes go a whole week without giving a quickie press avail. If this is navel-gazing, then GAZE WE WILL into the NAVEL OF DARKNESS.
Reporters are the only people in the world who understand, as of now, that this entire election is about them and the obstacles they have to overcome in order to get juicy quotes for their nut grafs. And so John McCain was, until this summer, easily the most important person in the world, forever, for chatting the fourth estate up in his fancy bus salon for several hours a day.
Surely you all can relate to this reporter's warm experiences in those halcyon days on a very personal level:
By July, I had covered McCain for almost seven months. I could recite many lines of his stump speech by heart, dreamed about his events at night and spent so much time scrolling through campaign e-mails on my BlackBerry that my fiance joked to our friends about the other man in my life.
Over those months, McCain had artfully created a sense of intimacy with the reporters who traveled with him. He barbecued for us at his Arizona cabin, and opened up about matters as personal as his faith and his son's girlfriends. On one of my first days covering McCain, another reporter protectively warned me that it was important to be judicious with the material I used from McCain's bus rides to keep the conversations in context.
Although the relationship was mutually beneficial, McCain offered accessibility and openness that was rare, if not unprecedented, in modern presidential politics. Now, as the presidential campaign plunges into its final days, that intimacy -- real or imagined -- has evaporated.
This "accessibility and openness" is the key to why McCain was such an honest hero of wars. By offering such rare and unlimited access to reporters, reporters were able to pass on loads of important issue-related information to a discriminating American electorate -- chiefly, how tangy John McCain's homemade ribs are and whether McCain's son will keep hooking up with this new girl he met, probably "Katie," or get back together with his ex, even if it has to be a long-distance/weekends thing because she is still in college. Imagine deciding your vote without taking this information into account -- you'd feel pretty stupid!
Among other significant things the very accessible John McCain told this reporter was where she should consider taking her honeymoon. Where the best deals were.
BUT THEN THE VERY SAD DENOUEMENT OF COURSE:
Later that summer, the frequency of McCain's news conferences dwindled to late-afternoon, end-of-the-week affairs where he began calling more often on reporters he didn't know.
We now watched from afar at most events -- listening for the few sentences that would change each day in his stump speech. We would catch glimpses of him through the window of his SUV from five cars back in the motorcade or watch him get off the plane.
At the height of vice presidential speculation, we rushed the staff cabin of the plane, frustrated that no one was around to address the rumors.
"What do you want, you little jerks?" McCain said, using his former term of affection, before turning away.
On a recent Sunday during a brief stop at a Virginia phone bank, I got unusually close to McCain in the line of people waiting to shake his hand.
Tape recorder out and within a foot of him, I asked if he could talk about his new economic plan, which he was to unveil that week. The man who once asked me about my wedding date returned my gaze with a stare, shook the hand of the strangers to the right and left of me and continued out the door.
Did McCain's son decide to keep hooking up with Katie?
We'll never know.