The secret plan to capture Osama bin Laden

GIBSON: Serious reaction to this statement: “John McCain says he’d follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won’t even follow him to the cave where he lives.”

MCCAIN: Well, look, President Clinton [had] opportunities to get Osama bin Laden. President Bush had opportunities to get Osama bin Laden. I know how to do it and I’ll do it.

There is an episode of The West Wing (1.15, “Celestial Navigation”) in which the show’s protagonist, Josh Lyman, plays Press Secretary for a day and facetiously tells the press that the President has a “secret plan to fight inflation.” Regardless of his clear and unsubtle sarcasm, his “secret plan” is demanded, he is generally raked over the coals by the press, and he loses all control of the narrative.

How sad it is that our actual press corps, when confronted with a presidential candidate who, entirely seriously, suggests that he has a secret plan to capture a national enemy ā€” a plan that the previous two presidents have not considered and that he has not shared with them ā€” while demeaning his opponent, who has presented a concrete plan that would yield a greater chance of capturing said enemy than we currently have, do not respond with sweeping incredulity and a truckload of questions.

There are few better encapsulations of the disease that infests the American press than that.