Why are the Media Still Making Excuses for McCain's Negativity?

It was ironic yesterday when John McCain slammed Barack Obama for being "touchy" and "angry." If the adjectives belong to anyone, it's John McCain.

Today, Mike Allen reported on a possible explanation.

[W]hat friends call "grumpy McCain" is showing up regularly on the campaign trail, and several top advisers worry that it's hurting his campaign by making him appear peevish and hunkered down when the country is looking for a larger and more optimistic brand of leadership. [...]

A close McCain friend said the reason is clear: McCain is miserable about having to run a campaign that's antithetical to his persona.

"He is basically having to be somebody that he isn't," said the friend, who remains strongly supportive. "He is just not a guy that goes on the attack in public. For him to be on the attack constantly, attacking Obama's character ... McCain is uncomfortable with that, and it's made him grumpy."

We've heard this quite a bit -- McCain knows he's running an insulting and cynical campaign, and he's just not comfortable with it. NBC's Andrea Mitchell recently argued, "John McCain also doesn't like this kind of politics." Roger Simon agreed, saying, "McCain really doesn't like attacking...which is why I think he's often uncomfortable with his own campaign."

I see. If McCain runs a positive, issue-oriented campaign, he's a great guy. If he runs a ridiculous, dishonest, character-assassination-style campaign, he's still a great guy, and he's just a reluctant rider on a train falling off the tracks.

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