This sort of story is rapidly becoming a genre unto itself:
Mr. McCain’s once easy-going if irreverent campaign presence — endearing to crowds, though often the kind of undisciplined excursions that landed him in the gaffe doghouse — has been put out to pasture. He takes far fewer chances, meaning there are fewer risqué jokes, zingers at a familiar face in the crowd, provocative observations on policy or politics, or exercises in self-derogatory humor. By every appearance, this Mr. McCain is, or at least is struggling to be, disciplined and on message in a way befitting of American politics today, if not quite befitting of the McCain of yesterday.
There’s a Bob and Dave sketch that turns on particularly whiny rendition of the phrase “You’ve chaaannnnged,” which is what was going through my head as I read the piece, though Nagourney’s tale of sorrow at the loss of the “old” McCain is not as weepy or as scolding as some have been. In fact, I think he captures the change in McCain’s style without resorting to condemnation or a case of the literary vapors. Maybe someone else can write a macro based on it for all the other journalists that will be writing such pieces soon, especially if he loses.