Kathryn Lopez

The presidential race is sure looking like it will be Democratic Sen. Barack Obama versus Republican Sen. John McCain. Team Obama is no doubt overjoyed, having already run with the "yesterday versus the future" rhetoric that is typical for a fight between a charismatic 46-year-old and a 71-year-old Vietnam War veteran. But Team McCain, despite its outreach problems even among the GOP's base, needn't despair. Obama, a senator in only his third year, can be beaten. If only McCain would try.

Just days after Chris Matthews reported experiencing a thrill up his leg when Obama spoke, the "Hardball" host lambasted a Texas legislator who braved the MSNBC talking-heads show to do his part in support of Obama's campaign.

Matthews was merciless: "What has he accomplished, sir? You say you support him. Sir, you have to give me his accomplishments. You've supported him for president. You are on national television. Name his legislative accomplishments. Barack Obama. Sir."

The poor local pol's answer was instructive (and accurate): "Well, I'm not going to be able to name you specific items of legislative accomplishments."

Matthews pressed on: "Can you name any? Can you name anything he's accomplished as a congressman?"

The local pol: "No, I'm not going to be able to do that tonight."

Matthews: "Well, that is a problem isn't it?"

It sure is. McCain has both an authority that comes with real experience in Washington and a good-old-boy likeability to anyone who's not working with him (he's known for outbursts in the Senate), plus he doesn't have the high negatives his colleague Sen. Hillary Clinton suffers from, perhaps fatally. McCain can adopt the "ready from day one" meme the former first lady has unconvincingly and patronizingly used with Democratic primary voters. He can do it with a legitimacy Clinton never has had.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.