I can almost see the gears turning in the Obama Campaign machine.
Nobody move. This son-of-a-bitch could implode all on its own.
Sometimes I wonder if John McCain wants to throw the election. One person can't be this reckless, erratic and risky. This has to be performance art. There has to be a trick here, a method to this madness, yet we only see madness after madness.
Even conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer had to fill Barack Obama with backhanded praise for being the one of even temperament and intellect compared to McCain's high wire, hail Mary circus act. For McCain there's no problem a tacky gimmick can't fix. There is no gawdy, grandiose display of "Country First" that's too shallow, disingenuous or shady. The wheels came off a long time ago, but he's still sliding around, getting by on what is left of his formerly good name. Relying on culture wars and the "us versus them" that he's never engaged in with any authenticity to get him through.
Because John McCain isn't a true believer. That's the main philosophical difference between him and George W. Bush. He's a war hawk and a free market lover and a hater of graft (ever since his career was almost destroyed by his involvement in the Savings and Loan debacle in the 1980s). But he's not a culture warrior. He's not Pat Buchanan or Phyllis Schlafly. He's not some Bible-thumping, Jesus-quoting, gay-bashing, master of divide and conquer rhetoric.
Everyone is expecting McCain to become increasingly desperate and dirty if the trend of Obama pulling away continues. People are predicting a dusty return to Rev. Jeremiah Wright (which would be pathetic) and more attempts to tie Obama to William Ayers (which would be the apex of pathetic).
The operatives and pundits recite all on cue that McCain is near the nadir of his campaign, a depth which he may descend to and never dig out of. Chris Matthews remains one of the few TV yakkers who can't let go of the fact that McCain's no. 2, Gov. Sarah Palin gave a "spelling bee-esque" performance that could have been done by any well coached grad student. That there was no thought in her answers, just the reciting of talking points and when those failed her, the rambling of words, a stream of consciousness that muddled the McCain's position on gay rights and the role of the vice presidency.
Did she really mean that the vice president needed more constitutional powers? Was she just bullshitting to get through the two minutes? Could it really be a success, Matthews bellowed if she kept having to look at her notes and had to rely on winks and declaring that she wouldn't answer the questions as asked no matter what, how could that be deemed a success? All politicians evade answers, he said, but few announced from jump that they would be doing so.
How could the pundits see a tie when all the polls said American saw an overwhelming victory by Sen. Joe Biden, even though their feelings towards her general intelligence and capabilities went from zilch to, "Oh, I guess she was just a little nervous when she bungled those elementary questions CBS News Anchor Katie Couric asked. She seems chipper now. She's talking loud and saying nothing, but she's standing on her hind legs and being assertive. Attaboy!"
More than once, Matthews, and many others have simply wondered allowed what on earth is going on in the McCain campaign? Why did every night appear to be amateur night for a veteran politician? All the Obama campaign has to do is lie in the wings and wait. McCain was doing the heavy lifting, dismantling his own campaign exploding brick by exploding brick for Barack.
I'm sure Barack appreciates it too. He needs a "Bradley Effect" buffer. He'll take every fumble and foible. Those ahead don't fall over the one behind. He can see the tip of McCain's sword and is anticipating a fall. No one fully trusts it, but that is the impression given.
Him pulling out of Michigan. Rumors he may pull out of Pennsylvania. The fact that his number one surrogate, his running-mate, can't do TV interviews. Hardliners pushing for McCain to play Rev. Wright's greatest hits one last time, but rumors that McCain likely won't, depending on the RNC and 527 groups to do the muckwork. The George Will Revolt, which continues despite Palin's make-up exam, with conservative critics suddenly turning on their nominee as if they've already declared him dead in the street. They talk as if he's already gone.
But sometimes they come back.
So we're left watching, waiting, staring not wanting to make one false move before November. We want to hasten the fall, but we don't want to delude ourselves into thinking the hard work is don. So we wonder what's next? No one could be this bad on purpose, we ponder. This has to be a trick.
I don't necessarily think this is a trick. These are the acts of distraction by a desperate man trying to break through the albatrosses of President Bush and the tarnished Republican brand. He's trying to survive a collapsing economy and discontent over two wars. He's trying to argue why a Republican can fix the mess a Republican president created. That they are not two of a kind. That he is not "McSame." This is how you act when you're coming from behind. Throw everything, do everything -- something has to work. There's no method to this madness. It's just madness. But just because they are desperate acts of insanity doesn't mean they won't work.