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'Unfit to Print'

Posted: Updated:

July 21, 2008

By Samantha Hayes

WASHINGTON -- In the corner of every edition of the New York Times is this little mantra:

"All the news that's fit to print."  Republicans, right now, are feeling pretty unfit, and insulted for that matter. That's because the newspaper rejected an opinion piece written by the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain. 

Just a week ago, the words of his rival for the White House, Senator Barack Obama, were inked without any apparent problem.  The New York Times Op-Ed editor David Shipley says Obama's commentary, titled, "My Plan for Iraq," "worked for me because it offered new information; while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans." 

Shipley is giving Senator McCain the grown up equivalent of the red pen treatment saying, "I'm not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written." Why? Shipley says it would be "terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq."

Shipley's statement, written in an email, reminded me a bit of a high school teacher telling his student to take his assignment home and try again. 

Shipley, incidentally, served in the Clinton Administration for two years from 1995 to 1997. He was a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Presidential Speechwriter. The New York Times also issued a statement this afternoon saying that it is standard operating procedure to "go back and forth with an author on his or her submission." The Times points to at least seven Op-Ed pieces by Senator McCain since 1996 that it has published and its endorsement of McCain during the Republican primary season.

In his submission, McCain wrote, in part, about the troop surge saying, "I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent." It's true that

 McCain has often offered the same criticism of Obama on the stump.

However, the controversy created over the rejected essay is now a news story, more than fit to broadcast, print, and discuss, according to many other news organizations that are running the story, and in some cases, McCain's full article.

McCain's campaign has also fired back. Spokesman Tucker Bounds released this statement:  "John McCain believes that victory in Iraq must be based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables.  Unlike Barack Obama, that position will not change based on politics or the demands of the New York Times."

Doesn't exactly sound like he'll be submitting another draft.

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