early and often

McCain Outlook Suddenly Much Gloomier


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There’s probably nobody looking forward to the weekend more than John McCain right now. As Barack Obama continues to charm the globe and world events seem to involuntarily coalesce around his platform, McCain is struggling to even get noticed (not for lack of trying). Though the mood of the campaign could easily flip tomorrow, the current rough patch is feeding doubts about McCain’s strategy — and his chances in November.

• Michael Grunwald decides to “just admit” the fact that “McCain is a long shot” and that, considering the political climate and the campaign so far, it could be time to ask whether he’s a “no-shot.” While “anything’s possible,” we should also “recognize that McCain needs an improbable series of breaks” to win. [Time]

• Justin Jouvenal responds that McCain still has plenty of hope because of two words: “It’s July.” McCain is hardly finished, but the “real danger for McCain from a story like this is that it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy.” [War Room/Salon]

• John Dickerson writes that McCain is attacking Obama “too much and indiscriminately” (take the ad that blames Obama for high gas prices), undermining the Republican’s message. McCain has a point on the surge, for example, but voters can’t trust him if he’s making ridiculous accusations against Obama on other fronts. McCain’s attacks have also sidetracked him from making a case about his own candidacy: He “lacks a line that tells people where he’s going to take them if he’s president.” [Slate]

• Howard Fineman claim that it’s “hard to imagine things looking much bleaker for” McCain this week. The trap McCain set by forcing Obama to go to Iraq turned out to ensnare McCain himself. Though “[y]ou can’t make up how bad things are going for McCain,” there are, of course, ways for him to rebound, such as a good veep pick or the inevitable media backlash against Obama. [MSNBC]

• Joe Klein calls McCain’s line in New Hampshire — “It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign” — the most “scurrilous statement by a major-party candidate” he’s heard covering nine presidential campaigns. It “smacks of desperation” and “renews questions about whether McCain has the right temperament for the presidency.” [Swampland/Time]

• Alessandra Stanley writes that while the McCain campaign complains about the media’s Obama infatuation, McCain is getting coverage — just bad coverage. While Obama looks presidential overseas, McCain “was seen being driven around in a golf cart by former president George Bush” in what looked more like a gathering of the “Past Presidents’ Club than a party elder passing the torch to his political heir.” Stanley notes, amusingly, that Fox News broke away from coverage of a McCain event “to cover the rescue of a bear cub wounded in a California fire and nicknamed Lil’ Smokey.” [NYT]

• Michael Crowley, in that same vein, “can hardly believe how badly John McCain is getting routed in the television-imagery game.” While Obama looks “cool and relaxed,” McCain has been “stiff, uncomfortable, and, in his bracing claim today that Obama would lose a war to win an election, sounding bitter to the point of nasty.” [Stump/New Republic]

• Matthew Yglesias (along with many others) notes that McCain, who pushes “the idea that he’s super-knowledgeable about national-security policy,” got the history of the surge completely wrong in his interview with Katie Couric, attributing the Anbar Awakening to the surge when in fact the Awakening predated the surge. [Atlantic]

• Seth Colter Walls points out that there was a time when McCain correctly understood the time line of the surge as it related to the Anbar Awakening. [HuffPo]

• Mark Halperin helpfully lists some things McCain should do to help him win, such as “stop appearing so shook up by Obamamania” and “stop saying things that make him seem old.” [Page/Time] —Dan Amira

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

McCain Outlook Suddenly Much Gloomier