The McCain campaign has failed miserably where George W. Bush's excelled -- in defining the opponent.
Al Gore, at the hands of Rove, McKinnon & Co., became an untrustworthy braggart.
John Kerry became a flip flopper.
The McCain camp's recent question "Who is Barack Obama?" is apt, oddly, because the McCain campaign could never decide for itself what the answer was.
McCain variously tagged Obama as:
A black man who disrespects white women
A self-promoting egotist
A corrupt back-room Chicago pol
A socialist tax hiker
A kinky kindergarten sex educator
A supporter of infanticide
A man of blind ambition
An empty suit
The list goes on.
The indiscipline of the message has been a direct reflection of McCain himself -- a man whose scatterbrained approach to the world was in full effect last night. He needed a cannon, a single, powerful sustained assault on Obama. Instead, he fired birdshot haphazardly, hitting himself in the foot as often as he stung his opponent.
Obama is in many respects the most audacious nominee the Democrats have ever selected. He was new to the national stage and for most Americans a blank slate. The McCain campaign could have, with sustained, disciplined effort, made him into something unacceptable. A non-starter for independents everywhere.
Instead they struck glancing blow after glancing blow at Obama -- making him appear, frankly, bulletproof. Obama, meanwhile, filled in that blank slate with cool steadiness and consistent leadership and defined himself as the most likable candidate in a generation.