Editors' Note: We're pleased to introduce new Prospect writing fellow
Adam Serwer. He's a recent graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of
Journalism. He also blogs at Jack and Jill Politics under the pseudonym
dnA and has written for The Village Voice and the Daily News.
On Friday, John McCain told Wolf Blitzer that 16 months would be "a pretty good timetable," despite his previous declarations that such a plan would result in "defeat in the first major war since 9/11." You'd think that his sudden endorsement of what is essentially Barack Obama's position would be a significant enough policy shift that newspapers would, you know, report on it. But you'd be wrong.
On Friday, The Washington Post led their article noting the change with McCain attacking Obama, relegating McCain's statement to paragraph seven (McCain's "audacity of hopelessness" takedown was in paragraph two). Weeks ago, the Post was one of the many papers that led with the non-news that Obama would tailor his policy to conditions on the ground. Other news outlets failed to even note McCain's statement as particularly significant, despite the attention given weeks ago to a shift in Obama's policy that didn't even happen.
Then, this weekend, McCain then went on This Week and told George Stephanopoulos he never even used the word "timetable," continuing a curious habit of flatly denying ever having said things that he's been recorded saying. At what point do these inconsistencies become a more significant story than a daily write-up of whatever poll tested quip McCain is using to describe his opponent?