ABC: McCain 'Distorted' Obama, Palin an 'Empty Designer Suit'

Examining “what went wrong” with John McCain's campaign, ABC's David Wright charged Wednesday night that by asserting Barack Obama would “be redistributionist in chief” McCain had “distorted Obama's policy positions” (how that was a distortion Wright did not say) and painted McCain as a hypocrite for having “mocked Obama as an empty-headed celebrity” before “he created a celebrity of his own,” Sarah Palin. While “many were impressed” with her, Wright snidely contended “plenty of others came to see Sarah Palin as an empty designer suit.” In castigating McCain from the left, Wright failed to offer any conservative critiques, such as McCain's lack of consistent conservative positions to contrast himself with Obama.

“If Barack Obama was driving the Cadillac of campaigns,” World News anchor Charles Gibson quipped, “John McCain was driving one that seemed in constant need of a tune-up and by the end it simply ran out of gas.” Wright fretted that after McCain won the GOP nomination “he started to change” and cut off media access, as if that led to his defeat: “The free-wheeling exchanges that put the Straight Talk Express on the map didn't last past the maiden voyage of Straight Talk Air.” Wright pointed out how “McCain had always promised to run a clean campaign on the issues,” but soon, Wright scolded, “McCain attacked Obama's associations....Obama's experience....and distorted Obama's policy positions.”

The story which aired during the second half of the hour-long ABC's World News of Wednesday, November 5, a piece which ran after a look at Obama's successful campaign:

CHARLES GIBSON: If Barack Obama was driving the Cadillac of campaigns, John McCain was driving one that seemed in constant need of a tune-up and by the end it simply ran out of gas. David Wright is in Phoenix. David.

DAVID WRIGHT: Good evening, Charlie. This was always shaping up to be a tough year for Republicans, but many people thought if anybody could pull it off it'd be John McCain. A brand name people could trust, a straight-talking maverick. But then it kind of seemed like a different candidate turned up for the general election. John McCain's message from the start was all about being his own man.

McCAIN: There's nobody that can stand between me and you. There's nobody who can stop and filter my message to you.

WRIGHT: In the primaries, the old straight-talking John McCain dispatched of Mitt Romney by exposing him as a flip-flopper.

McCAIN DURING A DEBATE: We disagree on a lot of issues, but I agree you are the candidate of change.

WRIGHT: But soon after McCain's moment finally arrived-

McCAIN AT CONVENTION: I have a privilege of accepting our party's nomination-

WRIGHT: -he started to change. The free-wheeling exchanges that put the Straight Talk Express on the map didn't last past the maiden voyage of Straight Talk Air. McCain had always promised to run a clean campaign on the issues.

McCAIN: A lot of the stuff that you see that you don't like will not happen in this campaign.

WRIGHT: And when that failed to close the gap, he took different advice.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sometimes you have to take mother's picture and turn it towards the wall and just go after the other guy.

WRIGHT: McCain attacked Obama's associations.

NARRATOR OF McCAIN AD: When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers-

WRIGHT: Obama's experience.

McCAIN: I've been tested, my friends, Senator Obama hasn't.

WRIGHT: And distorted Obama's policy positions.

McCAIN: Senator Obama's running to be redistributionist in chief.

WRIGHT: Last summer, McCain mocked Obama as an empty-headed celebrity.

NARRATOR IN PARIS HILTON AD: He's the biggest celebrity in the world.

WRIGHT: But then he created a celebrity of his own.

McCAIN: When you get to know her, you're going to be as impressed as I am.

WRIGHT: Many were impressed, but plenty of others came to see Sarah Palin as an empty designer suit.

MATTHEW DOWD: He picked somebody that ultimately is viewed as unqualified that looks to the public like here's a guy that's doing things for political expediency.

SARAH PALIN: If I cost John McCain even one vote I am sorry about that because John McCain I believe is the American hero.

WRIGHT: But even if everything else had gone according to plan.

McCAIN: The fundamentals of our economy are strong.

WRIGHT: McCain never planned on the financial meltdown.

McCAIN: Tomorrow morning, I'll suspend my campaign and return to Washington.

WRIGHT: As the stock market plunged, McCain's fortunes did too.

DOWD: It highlighted those differences in temperament and at a time when the country wanted sort of calm, cool, you know, relaxed thoughtful leadership-

WRIGHT: But perhaps most damaging of all, that gave Barack Obama an opening to argue that John McCain wasn't his own man after all, that he represented four more years of the same. Charlie.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center