This is rich:

“McCain’s always made to look old and angry, a curmudgeon. And Barack Obama? He’s always seen as presidential, cool, smiling, shaking hands,” whispered the guy.

I believe this phenomenon is called liberal bias. And the country has caught on.

That’s Poor John Kass, whose newspaper endorsed Bush twice and which has been dragged kicking and screaming from its support of the Iraq war by history.

But, yes: let’s stop portraying McCain as old and angry. Let’s portray him as dangerously ignorant of recent history, since we’re being fair and shit. I’m sure that the Liberal Media will be flogging McCain’s bewilderment about “the facts on the ground” any day now.

And as to whether The Media is ignoring McCain by not following him around the country, I’ve read enough about the internal workings of campaign journalism* to know that “bias,” in an ideological sense, rarely has anything to do with it (JFK and Bobby Kennedy, I think, are a prominent and unfortunate exception). These people vote with their pocketbooks just like everyone else, and once they smell the stench of death on a campaign they’re off like rats from a ship.

Whoever’s on the likely-winner beat, gaining expertise with that candidate, is more likely to gain the plum job of following the winner to the next station, whether it’s the next primary, or the general election, or the White House. Right now the poll numbers and electoral projections are somewhat favorable to Obama, but more importantly the Obama campaign is just performing much better than the McCain camp, which has been confused and desperate. Maliki’s endorsement of Obama’s plan to withdraw from Iraq inspired a Republican strategist (!) to remark: “we’re fucked.” In the abstract, they probably aren’t actually fucked. But given their lack of competence and confidence, who knows?

Keep in mind that ladder-climbing political reporters are the opposite of sharks–when there’s blood in the water they flee. And making passive-aggressive jokes at the expense of the poor bastards who have to follow McCain’s desultory camp around New Hampshire isn’t going to help. I can sympathize with McCain–or anyone who feels like they aren’t getting enough attention–but you campaign with the press you have, not the press you want, and the McCain camp has done an awful job and seems locked in a death spiral. And the media’s gonna get paid either way.

It’s both the campaign’s fault and the media’s fault. And, I should add, John Kass’s fault–his endless anti-Obama shtick reeks of 2004, when Democrats were very pro-anti-George Bush, and we all know how that went.

Update: The McCain campaign doesn’t actually want the race to be about McCain. Like Scherer says, you can’t make this stuff up.

*Theodore H. White, Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Ben Cramer, David Foster Wallace, Timothy Crouse, Michael Lewis….