McCain: Is he ready for Obama?

With the Democrats

How do you compete with a rock star? That’s essentially the challenge now vexing John McCain, said Steve Huntley in the Chicago Sun-Times. With the Democrats’ bruising nomination battle finally over, the differences between the GOP’s standard-bearer and Barack Obama have become glaringly apparent. For the moment, at least, a “rapturous” nation seems downright giddy about the prospect of electing its first black president, one endowed with youth, vigor, and “soaring oratory.” By contrast, the 71-year-old McCain has been looking somewhat wan. His performance at a thinly attended New Orleans rally last week was typical. He smiled mechanically, “stepped on the applause lines,” and left the stage abruptly. McCain is banking on his fabled crossover appeal, but Obama fever is so “infectious” that he’s the one who seems to be making bipartisan inroads. Poor McCain, said Kathleen Parker in the Orlando Sentinel. Next to the 46-year-old Obama, he comes across as a “grumpy ol’ granddad breaking up the keg party.”

And yet, McCain is still very much in this race, said Michael Barone in National Review Online. Despite the “Obamamania” that has gripped the mainstream media, polls show McCain more than holding his own, trailing Obama by just a few points nationally and looking especially strong in such battleground states as Ohio, New Hampshire, and Michigan. That the race is so tight isn’t all that surprising, said David Broder in The Washington Post. If the Democratic primaries taught us anything, it’s that Obama is not the juggernaut he once appeared to be. Having been battered by Hillary Clinton, “Obama limped into the nomination as a vulnerable and somewhat diminished politician.” By the end, he was on the defensive over his lack of foreign-policy experience, and his “sweeping reformist generalizations” left many average working Americans feeling that he was not in touch with their struggles or values.

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