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Rich Lowry at NRO Basically Concedes.

October 28, 2008

Rich Lowry, as enthusiastic a cheerleader as there could possibly be for the McCain/Palin ticket, just wrote an article blaming McCain for the “loss of 2008.”

No other Republican candidate had a character and background — as a courageously independent spirit — better suited to making the presidential campaign competitive this year. But perhaps no Republican candidate was so poorly suited to the task of running a presidential race.

McCain earned his chops as the media’s favorite Republican senator by being a maverick, or in a less exalted formulation, a gadfly. He pursued pet causes inimical to his party, such as campaign-finance reform, and made it his role to tell fellow Republicans what he considered hard truths.

None of this endeared him to Republican primary voters. He won the nomination anyway on the basis of his admirable support for the surge (adopted when he was in typical gadfly mode) and a few stock lines. He became the Republican nominee by default, without an organization or fundraising operation to speak of, and soon enough lost the press, too.

McCain’s rapport with the media depended on snarky banter about his own party and about himself. That couldn’t continue in the general election, so McCain’s campaign cut him off. His lifeline to his former admirers denied to him, McCain became a demonstrably unhappy warrior.

Outside his campaign, meanwhile, McCain is getting abandoned by all the Republicans who usually pronounce themselves “troubled” by Republican tactics. If McCain weren’t running for president, and it were some other Republican who had attacked Obama for his associations and picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, surely McCain himself would be on some Sunday show clucking his disapproval.

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