McCain's greatest advantage is himself. His life story is compelling and something neither Clinton nor Obama can match. He can own the issue of national security. He must now convince voters that on domestic issues he is better able to manage the economy while reducing the size and cost of government.
McCain's consistency on earmarks is a good start. But because the greatest costs are tied up in Social Security and Medicare, McCain must sell a plan that will transform these programs. Democrats will practice their usual demagoguery in the face of any attempt to fix what even they know are two programs in drastic need of repair, but if he can persuade the public on the need to reform our two biggest entitlement programs, he will do for these what Republicans did for welfare reform. And, like welfare reform, he can prove the critics wrong.
Knowing that the Clintons are not quitters, it will be fascinating to watch them deal with Florida and Michigan and the superdelegates. Will those two states hold new primary elections? Will there be a floor fight over the seating of delegates this summer at the Democratic convention in Denver? Will superdelegates that seemed to trend toward Obama before last Tuesday's primaries continue to do so, or will Sen. Clinton's victories freeze them in place?
There is nothing inevitable about any of this, which is why the 2008 presidential race continues to be the most fascinating in modern times.