2004: Press Leaders Sing "Happy Birthday" to McCain

If you wonder why the press loves John McCain, a man so out of it he thinks Sunni jihadis are trained in Shiite Iran*, consider this news item from 2004 (via the Daily Howler):

Richard Leiby, Washington Post (8/31/04): Sen. John McCain tended to his political base Sunday night: the entire national media. The maverick Arizona Republican, once (and future?) presidential aspirant and press secretary's dream hosted a hyper-exclusive 68th birthday party for himself at La Goulue on Madison Avenue, leaving no media icon behind. Guests included NBC's Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert, ABC's Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters, Ted Koppel and George Stephanopoulos, CBS's Mike Wallace, Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer, CBS News President Andrew Heyward, ABC News chief David Westin, Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons, CNN's Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, CNBC's Gloria Borger, PBS's Charlie Rose—pause here to exhale—and U.S. News & World Report publisher Mort Zuckerman, Washington Post Chairman Don Graham, New York Times columnists William Safire and David Brooks, author Michael Lewis and USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro. They and others dined on lobster salad, loin of lamb, assorted wines, creme brulee, lemon souffle and French tarts.


One guest, who asked not to be identified, described invitees as "the Journalistic Committee for a Government of National Unity." After singing "Happy Birthday" to McCain, many of the guests—Russert, Borger and Shapiro, among others—cabbed to Elaine's, where Zuckerman hosted a mob scene that included Fox's Bill O'Reilly, PBS's John McLaughlin and New York Gov. George Pataki, The Post's Mark Leibovich reports. By 11 p.m. the Second Avenue landmark—with red carpet outside—was elbow-to-elbow with martini-sipping guests. Thus commenced Campaign 2008 (we think).

This was during the Republican Convention, when Mayor Bloomberg's finest were arresting anyone who looked like a protester and hauling them to an asphault paddock near the Hudson waterfront to sleep in the open air.

*The man who Hillary Clinton believes passes the "commander in chief test" doesn't understand the most basic facts about the country he wants to keep occupying. From a news report yesterday:

Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back."

Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was "common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate." A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate's ear. McCain then said: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda."

"al Qaeda in Iraq" is a Sunni insurgency group; it has nothing to do with Iran or bin Laden's al-Qaeda based in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Update: Don't know if Wolf Blitzer was at that party, but he is showing a clip of one of McCain's (frequent) "al Qaeda in Iran" assertions that has been edited to make it look like a simple one-time slip. See Media Matters.

Update 2: According to Neal Gabler, writing in the New York Times, the reason the press loves McCain isn't because of the birthday party at La Goulue (he doesn't mention it) but because McCain is "postmodern."