A McCain Moment

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John McCain, one of Don Imus’s favorite guests, is hoping to break through the wall-to-wall Imus coverage today with the first in a series of policy speeches aimed at bringing his campaign out of its death spiral. Lately, the media have not been the friend they once were. In his appearance Sunday night on “60 Minutes,” McCain came off as tired and defensive–two looks that do not work well for him. His biggest problem, of course, is the fact that he is on the other side from the vast majority of the American people on the biggest issue of our time. But talking to Republicans, you pick up on another concern, one that even a miracle in Baghdad won’t fix, and one that Roger Simon describes in Politico:

The only thing that will change your mind about John McCain is when John McCain finds some enthusiasm, conveys some hope and gives voters a sense of why he really wants to be president.

I don’t see that on the agenda at the moment.

As he was considering whether he wanted to run again, McCain himself used to fret that it would never be as magical as it was in 2000. “You can’t bottle lightning,” he used to say. The first-quarter fundraising numbers that his campaign will be filing with the FEC this weekend are also expected to give additional evidence of how difficult it is to turn a maverick into an establishment candidate. We know how little they have raised; we will find out where it is (and isn’t) coming from, and how much they have spent. For a year, his campaign has sought to create a coronation. Now we need to see whether it can turn itself into a campaign.

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