Over at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg has got a riveting interview with Mark Salter, an old-school McCainiac who's collaborated with the Arizona Senator on several of his biographical books. Using David Kirkpatrick's week-old New York Times story as a jumping-off place, Goldberg catches Salter in total high-tension wire mode, as he claims the press is too easy on Obama and too harsh on Sarah Palin -- leading to an expletive-fueled rant against Goldberg's colleague Andrew Sullivan. No matter what one thinks of the McCain campaign -- and no matter how the election turns out -- this interview presages the must-read books that are sure to come from McCain campaign staffers around this time next year.
On the Kirkpatrick article:
GOLDBERG: What did you think of the Kirkpatrick story?
SALTER: I'm kind of pissed off about that. That and a few other things. I never even read For Whom the Bell Tolls. I had to read it for the second book (I wrote with McCain). I didn't pattern McCain's life on For Whom the Bell Tolls. It pissed me off. It's McCain's fucking story. Kirkpatrick was part of the New York Times story that can't be mentioned, but I've talked to him for every one of the biographical series. I just thought the idea that we had created a sort of new John McCain, a sort of hybrid of Robert Jordan and Marlon Brando, because McCain's favorite movie is "Viva Zapata," was not fair to McCain.
GOLDBERG: Is Timberg wrong to say that McCain has become a caricature, that the campaign has brought out bad qualities in him?
SALTER: I have not talked to Timberg. And right now all I've got is the quote and Kirkpatrick's story. I would like to know what the question was, the exact quote, before I have any comment on what Bob said. I think the world of Bob.
On the press' treatment of Obama:
GOLDBERG: How are you feeling about the press these days?
SALTER: Look, I think, starting with the Democratic primary, there has been a different standard for Obama than there has been for any candidate running against Barack Obama. And maybe this should have set off more warning bells with me. I think much of the media has a thumb on the scale for Obama. I think the thumb has been there the entire time. There are many honorable exceptions, I don't mean to tar everybody, but I think there's one standard for us, and one standard for Obama. He has run more negative ads than McCain has run ads. They run from the quite misleading to the blatantly untrue.
On their treatment of Palin:
SALTER: Does she have vast foreign policy experience? No. No, she does not have vast foreign policy experience. What appealed to McCain about her was, you know, everybody was talking about a change election. Every challenger who ever has run a race has run on a change platform. Everybody essentially runs as a reformer. When you're a guy like McCain who really has fought for reform, he found enormously appealing a woman who ran as a change agent and then fought to be one in office. If it was going to be a foreign policy pick, then it would be somebody else, I guess, but it wasn't. And she learns quickly. She learns quickly.
On Andrew Sullivan:
SALTER: Your blogging colleague over there seems to have lost his fucking mind, you know. Prior to Sarah Palin, he was accusing me of being a plagiarist, the whole Solzhenitsyn thing, the cross in the sand, and then it turned out that Sozhenitsyn didn't write such a story. I mean, Jesus Christ, it's just remarkable. This whole story about how the baby isn't hers? Jesus Christ. Just crazy shit.