Matt Towery

Anyone who doesn't at the very least appreciate the historic nature of Barack Obama's election is either an idiot or a bigot. It is just that simple. So let me take a few sentences to say that as an American, I congratulate our new president, will pray for his success both personally and as our new leader, and will view his presidency with the same objectivity I had with regard to George W. Bush.

That was probably the most popular part of my column. Here's where my conservative friends get really mad: I want to salute John McCain. Why? Because he may be the last true American hero we ever see in a presidential race.

McCain really never had a prayer of winning the 2008 presidential race. The Republican establishment despised McCain for his willingness to cross the aisle to work with Democrats, and his equal willingness to cross the system by taking on George W. Bush in the 2000 election. He wasn't their kind of conservative. So they preferred to let him wilt on the vine, struggling for money, searching for issues, and having to deal with a leaky, creepy, Bush-linked staff, who decided it was far more important to attack Sarah Palin before the election was even over than really try to win.

And McCain wouldn't get down into the gutter. He could have run endless Jeremiah Wright ads toward the end of the campaign. But McCain was bright enough to know that it would only have destroyed his own reputation, and not given him enough votes to overcome the inevitable tide of Obama votes.

You see, it was never supposed to be; a McCain race that is. Mitt Romney -- who I will freely admit I had warmed up to considerably by the end of the campaign -- was meant to be the inheritor of the GOP establishment crowd. If not, they would settle for Rudy Giuliani. But when Mike Huckabee stole the show in the November 2007 CNN debate, he became the darling of populist and social conservatives long enough to deflate Romney and Giuliani to also-rans.

Ironically, the media in America, particularly the national press, have always liked McCain. They knew he would buck the system, was accessible, quotable and open to them. It wasn't until he won his party's nomination that they attacked his every move.

But in the end, it was neither his choice of Sarah Palin nor his performances in the debates -- not even his Joe the Plumber strategy -- that did John McCain in. Instead it was an economic collapse rooted in a rotten housing market, propped up by a phony mortgage market that for some reason decided to collapse and bring down with it the entire U.S. economy with just weeks to go before the election.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery