Which god did he please to get the Times to do him this favor, I wonder. Remember when they endorsed him in January and he very stupidly touted it on his website, only to quietly drop it when he realized the Republican base doesn’t consider the NYT’s imprimatur a badge of honor? This is the antithesis. You’re a real conservative at last, Maverick!

An editorial written by Republican presidential hopeful McCain has been rejected by the NEW YORK TIMES — less than a week after the paper published an essay written by Obama, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

The paper’s decision to refuse McCain’s direct rebuttal to Obama’s ‘My Plan for Iraq’ has ignited explosive charges of media bias in top Republican circles…

[Former Clinton aide and current NYT op-ed editor David] Shipley, who is on vacation this week, explained his decision not to run the editorial [in an e-mail to McCain’s staff on Friday].

‘The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans.’

Shipley continues: ‘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.’

Drudge has the text of the rejected draft. The punchline? It’s true, the piece is short on specifics (and long on rubbing the left’s face in their misjudgment of the surge) — but then so was Obama’s op-ed, never delving beyond the Iraq/Afghanistan boilerplate he’s been pushing for the last year except insofar as he revealed the number of brigades to be redeployed. As for McCain’s non-definition of victory, quote:

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military’s readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

Vague, but then so was Obama’s caveat in his op-ed about “tactical readjustments” to his timetable based on conditions on the ground. What exactly are they looking for by way of specifics? “We’ll go home when Sadr’s dead”? The more capable the IA is in defending its turf, the more American troops can be redeployed. I don’t know what they want beyond that. But if that’s not good enough, how about this for a compromise: McCain will offer a precise, legalistic definition of victory in return for Obama offering a precise, legalistic definition of defeat. Are we already there? If so, say so, because that sure would put Obama’s supposed meeting of the minds with Maliki in stark, stark context.

And to think, 49% believe the media’s trying to help Obama win. Exit question: Since when does Drudge do favors for McCain? Or was a hot story bashing the Times simply too much for him to resist, whatever the political fallout might be?

Update: Here’s the full text of Shipley’s e-mail:

From: David Shipley/NYT/NYTIMES [mailto:XXXXXXX]
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2008 8:31 PM
To: XXXXXXX
Cc: XXXXXXX
Subject: Re: JSM Op-Ed

Dear Mr. XXXXXX,

Thank you for sending me Senator McCain’s essay.

I’d be very eager to publish the Senator on the Op-Ed page.

However, I’m not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written.

I’d be pleased, though, to look at another draft.

Let me suggest an approach.

The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans.

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. It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory — with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And
it would need to describe the Senator’s Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan.

I am going to be out of the office next week. If you decide to re-work the draft, please be in touch with Mary Duenwald, the Op-Ed deputy. Her email is XXXXXXXX; her phone is 212-XXXXXXX.

Again, thank you for taking the time to send me the Senator’s draft. I really hope we can find a way to bring this to a happy resolution.

Sincerely,

David Shipley