Who Lost the Race? Blame the Maverick

Or, more accurately, the gadfly who couldn't run a campaign
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2008 12:56 PM CDT
Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as he speaks at a campaign rally in Pottsville, Pa., Monday evening, Oct. 27, 2008.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
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(Newser) – John McCain could still win the election, but it would be in spite of himself, writes Rich Lowry in the National Review. If Republicans are laying blame for the 2008 race, they should lay it on John McCain, paradoxically the best and worst candidate they could have fielded. McCain’s appeal was that he was a maverick, “or, in a less exalted formulation, a gadfly.”

Once McCain stopped making “snarky banter about his own party,” the media abandoned him. Gadflies are natural loners, so McCain had no fundraisers or loyalists. He was forced to hire ex-Bushies who botched his appeal. He’d slammed 527s, so few helped him. Above all, McCain lacked domestic policy chops, beyond pet issues like earmarks. “When you’re a gadfly, you can flit above substantive debate,” Lowry writes. “It’s your posture, rather than your knowledge of policy, that matters.”