Ross has an insighful post:
In their first races for the presidency, both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton promised to take their parties in new directions, and both offered substance to back these promises up; the press treated them like new-model candidates because there was actually good reason to think that they were. McCain, by contrast, has promised to take his party in a new direction, but the centerpiece of his reform agenda is ... cutting earmarks. Maybe that's a laudable goal, but "compassionate conservatism" or "ending welfare as we know it" it sure isn't, and you can't fool reporters into thinking that it is.
The press is allergic to policy detail, but they do respond, at least to some extent, to innovation and unconventional proposals - and if McCain's agenda had been bolder, his attempt to run a more high-minded campaign in the early going might have earned him more press coverage than he ended up receiving. Any politician can claim to be running as a new kind of a candidate - but unless you're Barack Obama, who wears his newness in his name and on his skin, you need to prove it, and then prove it again, before the media will take you seriously.
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