The multiple personalities McCain has displayed during his bumbling effort come as no surprise to his long-time observers. The truth is that McCain isn't an agent of change or a maverick but merely a rude, angry old time pol whose time has run out.
Politics is about winning. But that fundamental concept hasn't yet penetrated the thick-skulls who call the shots for the Republicans.
Deluding itself that somehow a carbon copy of George Bush, one of the least popular presidents in American history, could somehow mount a winning drive against either of the two Democrats—Hillary Clinton early on but eventually Barack Obama—the GOP will soon be left with the spoils.
When analysts look back at Election 2008, they'll point to the Wall Street collapse as the fatal blow to McCain.
By the time the final votes are tallied, it will be. But the financial crisis, at least to some degree, could have been anticipated. Signs of trouble abounded months ago.
Yet, the GOP was content to go with McCain, a Johnny-One Note (the Iraq War) and a self-confessed economic ignoramus, instead of looking for reasonable alternatives and a fresh face.
The true turning point, however, was the late January night in Florida when McCain narrowly edged out Mitt Romney in the state's closed primary to end the former-Massachusetts governor's presidential bid.
McCain went over the top in large part because of the endorsements of Republican standard bearers—RINOs, in other words—Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez. McCain's win, narrow though it was, built on his previous week's South Carolina victory and gave voters the impression that he had unstoppable momentum.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Ironically, even ten months ago, nearly half of all Florida voters said in an exit poll that the economy was the most important problem facing the country.
And Romney had tailored his campaign to that message while at the same time exploiting the Republican's conservative base with McCain's long history of abandoning his party on key votes.
Said Romney, prophetically: "At a time like this, America needs a president in the White House who has actually had a job in the real economy." [McCain Scores Florida Primary Win, By Bill Nichols, Politico.com, January 26, 2008]
If Romney were today's Republican nominee, a few things probably would have happened that did not in McCain's campaign:
Since Romney is as poised as Obama, he'd go toe-to-toe with him in the debates, at least holding his own. McCain has sounded foolish as he wanders around the room prefacing his statements with "my friends" and vaguely promising to find Osama bin Laden.
Voters would have listened to Romney rather than laugh at McCain when the talk turns to jobs.
This is all hindsight now. But with the third debate in the history books, McCain is finished. Republican insiders now hope that McCain can help his party gain Congressional seats, or at least minimize the losses, and build a 2012 foundation.
In the end, Obama will receive nearly 400 electoral votes, a landslide. That's quite an achievement for a candidate that no one is truly enthusiastic about.Blame it on the GOP. When it nominated McCain, it insured its own demise.
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.