A field guide for McCain campaign infighting

If John McCain's presidential campaign isn't already paralyzed by competing factions, Adam Nagourney's analysis of them could help spread the poison.


Ed Kilgore
July 8, 2008 4:30PM (UTC)

For the second day in a row, the New York Times features insights into the roiling waters of John McCain's presidential campaign.

Yesterday it was Bill Kristol; today it's Adam Nagourney, whose field guide to the factional leaders within Team McCain concludes with the suggestion that "voters now might be getting an early glimpse of the messy, unstructured way in which a McCain White House might be managed."

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Ouchy, ouchy.

Nagourney relentlessly attributes the disarray to the candidate himself, who "is uncomfortable firing people or banishing them entirely. His orbit remains filled with people who have been demoted without being told they are being demoted, like Mr. [Rick] Davis, who continues to hold the title of campaign manager even as Mr. [Steve] Schmidt manages the campaign." McCain also, says Nagourney, is the source of the persistent rumors that another shakeup is underway that will bring Mike Murphy in to roll the rest of the team.

But Nagourney's most subversive suggestion is that Karl Rove Himself is now a major factional player in the McCain campaign, operating through proteges like Schmidt and former White House communications director Nicole Wallace.

This is just the kind of press coverage McCain needs to help rebut arguments that he's running for "George W. Bush's third term." Maybe these fine campaign professionals are inured to such talk. But you have to wonder whether Nagourney's right about the internal paralysis, and if not, whether his analysis represents the kind of poison that could quickly spread. He saved his best shot for the kicker, quoting another McCain intimate with shadowy influence over the candidate, John Weaver, as saying of McCain: "[F]or his own sake, he needs to finally, firmly decide where he wants to take this campaign."

For the second day in a row, the New York Times features insights into the roiling waters of John McCain's presidential campaign.

Yesterday it was Bill Kristol; today it's Adam Nagourney, whose field guide to the factional leaders within Team McCain concludes with the suggestion that "voters now might be getting an early glimpse of the messy, unstructured way in which a McCain White House might be managed."

Advertisement:

Ouchy, ouchy.

Nagourney relentlessly attributes the disarray to the candidate himself, who "is uncomfortable firing people or banishing them entirely. His orbit remains filled with people who have been demoted without being told they are being demoted, like Mr. [Rick] Davis, who continues to hold the title of campaign manager even as Mr. [Steve] Schmidt manages the campaign." McCain also, says Nagourney, is the source of the persistent rumors that another shakeup is underway that will bring Mike Murphy in to roll the rest of the team.

Advertisement:

But Nagourney's most subversive suggestion is that Karl Rove Himself is now a major factional player in the McCain campaign, operating through proteges like Schmidt and former White House communications director Nicole Wallace.

This is just the kind of press coverage McCain needs to help rebut arguments that he's running for "George W. Bush's third term." Maybe these fine campaign professionals are inured to such talk. But you have to wonder whether Nagourney's right about the internal paralysis, and if not, whether his analysis represents the kind of poison that could quickly spread. He saved his best shot for the kicker, quoting another McCain intimate with shadowy influence over the candidate, John Weaver, as saying of McCain: "[F]or his own sake, he needs to finally, firmly decide where he wants to take this campaign."


Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is the managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and an online columnist for The New Republic.

MORE FROM Ed Kilgore


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John Mccain, R-ariz. War Room

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