Sasha Issenberg interviews John McCain’s top media advisor Mark Mckinnon in today’s Boston Globe. In what has become a remarkable act of insubordination, McKinnon has been telling the press for weeks now that he’ll probably leave the campaign once Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee because he just likes the Illinois Senator so gosh darn much. Indeed, McKinnon says he wrote a memo to the McCain campaign before he was hired last year stating as much.
As McCain’s comeback picked up speed, McKinnon cast jealous glances toward Obama, who was the beneficiary of two unconventional, online videos that McKinnon considers the best work of the campaign: an early bootleg spoof of Apple’s “1984” ad lampooning Hillary Clinton as “Big Brother” and a music video released in January by singer will.i.am featuring celebrities saying excerpts from an Obama speech.
McKinnon becomes visibly giddy when discussing the video, calling it “cool” and “really powerful stuff.”
“I’m a music guy,” said McKinnon. “You combine music and politics, I’m halfway there.”
McKinnon says that while he would have happily worked for McCain in a general election match-up against Hillary Clinton, he just can’t bring himself to support the presumed Republican nominee against Barack Obama. “I flash-forwarded to how I would feel in that position, and I realized that I’d be uncomfortable and it would be bad for McCain to have me in that slot,” he tells the Globe. McKinnon claims to deeply admire John McCain and wants to see him become president. Yet the desire to realize a McCain presidency evaporates into thin air once St. Obama steps onto the stage. What sort of loyalty is this, telling the media that you respect your boss only to the point that you would work for him unless your favored Democrat became the nominee? Not long ago, McKinnon could rightly be labeled as a “McCainiac” alongside Mark Salter, Mike Murphy or Marshall Wittmann. Now, McKinnon’s admiration for the Senator sounds about as genuine as that of John Weaver.
“We can live with whatever Mark has to do,” Salter tells the Globe. If this was last summer — after McCain had fired most of his top staff and was in serious debt — maybe such a forgiving attitude would be understandable. But now that John McCain will be the Republican nominee, why hasn’t the campaign fired McKinnon for going on like this? And, if he told the campaign that he wouldn’t continue working for McCain were Obama to become the nominee, why was he hired in the first place?