Why you don't see people booing John McCain

by Dave Weigel

Joe Hagan keeps up New York's remarkable record of turning every profile into a mini-"Game Change" of revealing quotes and moments with this monolith on John McCain. The moment that's getting the most attention comes which McCain gets irritated at Scott Brown for his advice on how to win elections (my guess: "run against Martha Coakley"), but there's hardly a dull graf in this thing. For example:

By setting himself up against [former congressman and free money from the government pitchman J.D.] Hayworth, McCain was locked into a fight for the tea-party voteessentially a race to the right, one in which McCain would be hobbled by his past positions. There was intense internal debate among McCain’s advisers in the fall of 2009 about whether McCain should even appear at a tea-party rally. McCain’s chief of staff, Mark Buse, was terrified of McCain getting booed off the stage and having the image go into cable-TV rotation. Until March, his advisers repeatedly refused to let McCain appear at one.

This is savvy, isn't it? The first McCain rally of this campaign that got major video coverage was the one Sarah Palin appeared at. No chance of boos there, so reporters had to settle for anecdotes of bored tea partyers walking out as the senator talked. And McCain is not alone here. I'm informed that Republicans haven't encouraged Michael Steele to speak at a tea party because they know he'll be booed, and that the video of this will outlast cockroaches and Twinkies. This is a good call -- Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) never overcame the video of tea partyers heckling him for his TARP vote. And as much as the McCain of 2009-2010 deserves tea party support for digging in against the Obama agenda, he voted for TARP when he was in a unique position to stop it, and he'll never be forgiven for that.