There’s nothing left to say. McCain tried to co-opt Obama’s frame with the Palin pick, and it ended up sinking him. I think people will look back and say he had a fighting chance as the voice of reason and experience next to the up-and-comer with no real background (think Celeb ad), but as soon as he tried to change tack and go for the mantle of change, he lost momentum on both fronts. It seems like McCain never fully grappled with the fact that Obama’s narrative worked because of who he is, what he looks like, and his story. It wasn’t about reform policies – how many campaign reform bills you backed, times you took on your party – Obama doesn’t look like old politics, McCain does.
Which doesn’t mean he was doomed – or slated to be in a spot as bad as the one he’s in now. The tried and true, steady hand message like the one in McCain’s Storm ad, had a shot at effectiveness – even in 2004, in the middle of the worst part of the War in Iraq, after fucking Abu Ghraib, and people went for the fear and dread over a new face, and McCain had it. But he tried to have it both ways, and Obama out classed him – in all senses of the word.