By Patrick Appel
Well, political pieces by elected officials or candidates can often be very boring - safe, unrevealing and tediously partisan. In general I required such pieces to jump over a pretty high importance barrier before I ran them. Obama's piece vaulted that hurdle. It outlined his views, pretty much avoided point scoring, and dealt with the issue. McCain's piece, on the other hand, knocked the hurdle over. It wasn't about Iraq. It was about Obama.
Philip Klein doesn't:
It's true that different rules apply for editorial pages, which don't pretend to be unbiased. But even an editorial page that is should have a basic sense of fairness, and certainly a vibrant page should want to welcome debate. According to Drudge, NYT Op-Ed editor David Shipley, a former Clinton speechwriter, said: "The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans... It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq."
But Drudge printed the original McCain article, and comparing it to Obama's column, I see no qualitative difference. Yes, the McCain column is a political document that doesn't have many specifics, but the same can be said for Obama. To the extent that Obama does have some specifics -- a 16-month timetable -- that's a result of the a policy disagreement. It isn't evidence that somehow Obama article was more thorough or original.
Either way, this is now a big win for McCain. His article is now out as the lead item on Drudge, and it will get more attention that it would have had they printed it. It also should be a great fundraising tool for McCain among conservative donors.