Columbia Journalism Review has an interview with McCain campaign blogger Michael Goldfarb, and it's clear that Goldfarb has emerged from the experience...uhm...well, he has emerged from the experience, anyway. Basically, Goldfarb is mad at the media, and is under the impression that he put one over on them, through his deft blogging about Dungeons and Dragons. I mean, at one point, he compares himself, favorably, to Tucker Bounds, which is just something sane people don't do. "I was a cudgel," Goldfarb enthuses, describing himself as a weapon that you wouldn't bring to any sort of fight if you wanted to be taken even the slightest bit seriously.
Actually, in truth, Goldfarb might be on to something. Check out this description of his time in the McCain campaign:
GOLDFARB: [The McCain campaign] assured me that they were looking for someone to attack the press. And that struck me as a really bad idea, but when a presidential campaign calls up and offers you a job you take it. I didn't think they'd follow through on the claim the way they promised, and I expected to be reined in pretty quickly--end up working on statements and the like. I didn't expect to have free reign to do what I wanted.
Occasionally they would task me with something and I wouldn't get to follow through. Like they were going to throw The New York Times off the plane, I wrote the memo explaining that [decision], and then they changed their minds. But day to day, in terms of picking lines of attack, I was giving a great deal of latitude. I was working with other communication guys--but there was a tremendous amount of latitude and that persisted well beyond the convention, which was surprising. I thought they'd end the blog after the convention. But it wasn't until about three weeks out from the election that I basically stopped blogging, because I decided it wasn't prudent to keep it going. There were other outlets for that. I decided to work on statements, and the blog just became a little bit risky because it didn't have to go through the normal channels. It left the campaign exposed and it left me exposed.
What Goldfarb describes, of course, is a campaign prone to making structurally unsound decisions on a regular basis. Like, say, "suspending his campaign," or "asking Sarah Palin to be vice-president." McCain and his campaign team mostly made structurally unsound decisions, and this is what the media covered. And, not surprisingly, the coverage tended to be unfavorable, especially in a post-pig lipstick environment!
There's also this:
GOLDFARB: I thought from the beginning that we would lose. I'm not a lunatic, the odds were always stacked against McCain. But there were a couple weeks there after the convention where [winning] looked like a possibility. People, for the first time, let themselves think that maybe it was possible that we could win. But then the markets collapsed, and everyone sobered up and realized it was an incredible longshot. But you don't do that because you think you're going to get some cushy job after. As a journalist you want the opportunity to see it from the inside out, and you have a candidate you really like, admire, and respect. You saw it with Linda Douglas and Jay Carney--there's no expectation that a journalist who gets that opportunity is going to pass it up. It's too interesting.
It's hard to pick through the contradictions contained in that paragraph! Joining the campaign wasn't about getting a "cushy job," Goldfarb says, it's about the impossible-to-pass-up opportunity to follow "a candidate you really like, admire, and respect." But Goldfarb clearly DOESN'T like, admire, or respect the candidate or his campaign! If you thought he could win, "from the beginning," you were a "lunatic." If you came to believe it during the campaign, you just needed to "sober up." For all the bitching about the media, the only disingenuous "journalist" who appears in the entire piece is Michael Goldfarb.
Anyway: everything was someone else's fault. If it wasn't the press it was the campaign, and if it wasn't the campaign, it was the stock markets. I guess it wouldn't be SOBER to suggest that at a time when the McCain campaign was in need of some coherent decision making and messaging, Michael Goldfarb was bloggin' about ABBA.