The John McCain candidacy, launched amid much hope, fanfare, and high expectations, may be dying before our eyes.
Even worse, it may go out with a whimper instead of a bang.
It may not end in an Armageddon style primary defeat, but just dry up from lack of support, money, or interest.
Throughout all of 2006, McCain sat atop the polls right next to Rudy Giuliani. In the Fox News survey of December, 2006, he was getting 27 percent of the Republican primary vote to Rudy's 31 percent. But, after Giuliani announced that he was running, the Arizona senator fell to 24 percent while Rudy soared into the stratosphere at 41 percent of the primary voters. But even when McCain was polling well, he wasn't raising the money he needs for this campaign.
In the last quarter of 2006, during a time when he was tied for front-runner status in the GOP and doing well in general election matchups against likely Democratic rivals like Hillary Clinton, he raised only $1.7 million according to his filing with the Federal Elections Commission.
Even worse, he had less than $500,000 on hand, pocket change in a presidential race and barely adequate for a run for Congress.
Part of McCain's problem was that he wasn't raising money. But the other part has been that he is spending money too rapidly — and not on reaching voters but on paying political consultants. One top Republican operative from the old Reagan campaign commented, "McCain has hired every consultant he can find. He has all the top names, but no money."
What is McCain's problem?
Why did he go from the most exciting candidate in the race a year ago to the verge of oblivion today?
Fundamentally, he failed to heed the Shakespeare's admonition "to thine own self be true." The John McCain of the 2000 campaign is nowhere in evidence in 2007.
Instead of challenging the party establishment, he pathetically waits at its door, hoping to be invited. Where he used to challenge the religious right, he now panders to them. Once he led the battle against big tobacco, for corporate governance reform, in favor of campaign financing changes, and in support of action against global warming.
Now he has been identified with two issues, neither popular in the Republican Party: The Iraqi troop surge and amnesty for illegal aliens.
Rather than stake out an independent voice apart from the Bush administration, he has become the last survivor at Custer's Last Stand in its support of its policies.