Politico today proudly features a non-story with a misleading headline. (I assume they’re proud of the story because the text is accompanied by a video of reporter Jonathan Martin pretty much reciting it.)
The headline is: “John McCain doesn’t work weekends” —- and the expectation raised is that Mr Martin has caught the geezer asleep at the wheel, or at least napping on the job.
But the “work” involved turns out only to cover public media-oriented events of the kind that Mr. Martin and his fellow journalists can cover. And the reason turns out to be that, far from napping, the McCain campaign made the very sensible strategic decision that, as long as Mr. Martin and his fellow journalists were falling over themselves to cover the media-oriented duel between Senators Obama and Clinton, the Arizona Senator’s time would (a) not be wasted and (b) would be better spent, by studying issues, holding meetings, and making plans.
To be fair, Mr. Martin probably didn’t write his headline — which is undermined by the third, fourth. and fifth paragraphs of his story (and paragraphs one and two are one sentence each:
He’s usually spending time with family, friends and campaign advisers at residences in Arlington, Va., and Phoenix or vacation homes near Sedona, Ariz., and San Diego.
That isn’t to say McCain is kicking back and relaxing every weekend.
He’s hosted reporters and donors on separate occasions at his Arizona cabin, done a guest turn on “Saturday Night Live” and visited troops in both Iraq and at Walter Reed hospital.
Despite the thinness of the premise, and in the face of a denial from Senator McCain, Mr. Martin remains undeterred in his march to the point he is determined to make:
Yet at the same time, his aides don’t want to wear him out and risk raising fears about his age by pushing him so much so that he get sick.
Last month, campaign staffers at his headquarters sought to give him an entire Friday free of public events, citing a cold as the reasoning for scrapping the day’s schedule. But when McCain got wind of the plan, he rebelled and forced his aides to schedule a news conference.
Political veterans said McCain’s decision to forgo stumping on the weekends had both merits and flaws.
With the invocation of the political veterans, Mr. Martin is off to the races, mining quotes for his story from Larry Sabato, Ed Rollins, and Scott Reed.
Mr. McCain’s health and energy are legitimate issues in the campaign, and as such they are being closely monitored by reporters. And the fact is that the Republican nominee is a hostage to fortune in this regard. Should the Senator get as much as a bad case of the sniffles between now and November, it’s Katy bar the door. But until then, exercises like Mr. Martin’s today are less than helpful or productive.