Quin, I share a lot of your problems with the McCain campaign, and I, too, was a fierce critic of his reaction to the financial crisis. I thought he lost the race with his suspension, which will be looked back at as one of the greatest blunders in the history of presidential politics. With that said, I'm going to defend McCain a little here. Republicans came into this race with the odds way against them, and he had to pay for the mistakes of President Bush. Despite this, he was very much in this race until the biggest financial meltdown, arguably, since the Great Depression. No Republican could have won under these conditions. Perhaps he could have made it closer, but that's about it. Also, I would argue that a lot of the bad decisions he made, in part, were caused by a need to distance himself from Bush or inoculate himself from other Republican liabilities.
I would add, too, that by promoting the idea that McCain somehow blew the election, it underestimates the political talents of Barack Obama. Here's a guy who a lot of conservatives thought had no chance of beating Clinton, and he pulled it off, and then he was able to win over her voters, and overcome his primary problems with working class voters. I've been going to Obama campaign events since March 2007, and have attended dozens of them, and he has shown extraordinary growth as a politician. His ability to adapt to circumstances and make everything sound moderate and reasonable to those who don't parse his words and look into his record, is quite remarkable. And yes, he had the whole media on his side.
To be sure, I agree that McCain could have run a much better campaign. But I think it would be a mistake for conservatives to come out of this election thinking that they would have won, if only McCain wasn't a crappy candidate.
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