For all McCain's personal qualities, we're learning that the machine behind the GOP simply re-makes the campaign in its own Coulterite image. Instead of actually fighting on the core questions - how do we get out of Iraq with the least damage? how do we get past carbon-based energy? how do we tackle al Qaeda's new base in Pakistan and within the nuclear-armed Pakistani government? how will we reduce the massive debt bequeathed us by the Bush-Rove GOP? how do we restore the Geneva Conventions? - we are debating people's cultural insecurities and food choices.I suspect that McCain's recent improvement in the polls has come at a cost: the perception that he was a different type of Republican politician, one who campaigned with a sense of honor and integrity, is gone. Something like this happened in the summer of 1980, when Jimmy Carter overturned a double-digit lead by Ronald Reagan to pull even in the polls, by going hard negative against his opponent. That turned out to be a short-term palliative: once the American people were reminded of how crappy the economy was, and discovered that Ronald Reagan wasn't as much of an ogre as he had been portrayed by Carter, the jig was up. But it did make that race closer for most of the campaign than it had any right to be.
UPDATE: And one of Senator McCain's more famous contributors agrees.