As you may have noticed, John McCain hasn't had any kind of theme to his campaign. He can't go after Obama on what Obama is vulnerable on because that's all tied into race, so Obama gets a free pass on that.
What John McCain should have done in this race is embrace his Grumpy Old Manness and run as the we've-got-to-live-within-our-means candidate. Run against the whole Debt Debauch, the no-money-down culture, the get rich quick attitude. Run against Bush's campaign against down payments.
Don't run in favor of "regulation," run in favor of "thrift" and "prudence," on old fashioned non-ideologue conservatism.
Embrace his old scandal. Talk about how you let a donor get you involved in the S&L bad loan scandal in the 1980s, and that was shameful and humiliating and you learned a big lesson from that.
Talk about how your opponent just wants to take your money and use it to expand the number of government employees in his political base, social workers. And we can't afford that.
Of course, there would have been a big walk the walk problem with McCain, since he doesn't seem very thrifty himself. For example, he'd probably have what you'd call a gambling problem if he didn't have a rich wife. Like John Kerry, he's a good catch who used his attractiveness to women to land a rich wife. (Not a bad strategy, by the way.)
And I imagine McCain wasn't actually against all this stuff back when it was going on. Nobody who was anybody was.
But at least this would have given him a theme.