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Who Are Those Guys?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The late Paul Newman's famous refrain with Robert Redford, playing Butch and Sundance just a step ahead of their relentless pursuers, is what the GOP should have been making front-runner Barack Obama mutter for the past month. Opportunity missed, and election hopes greatly dimmed.

McCain didn't go for the jugular on economics or national security in his first debate with Obama, despite many chances to do so.

Palin has gone bland and cautious since the convention, instead of blistering the opposition ticket and lynch-mob media with her testerone as we know she can.

House and Senate Republicans haven't trained their fire on Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter as the guilty authors of the mortgage mess.

It pains me to bracket a class act like Newman with a phony like Obama, however similar their political views may have been. (Redford is another story; he and BHO can have each other.) But the analogy of that wonderful Western and campaign 2008 holds true.

It was going to take hell-bent determination and, yes, a killer instinct for the center-right posse to chase down the charming leftist who already cleaned out Hillary's bank and is now closing in on the White House vault. Barack heard footsteps for a while there in August and early September. He was looking over his shoulder, maybe ready for that desperate cliff dive into the river.

But the cold sweat of "Who are those guys?" wasn't sustained, Obama has regained some breathing room, and in another 35 days of hard riding the biggest prize of all may be his.

"What we have here," to switch Newman movies for a moment, "is a failure to communicate." That monument of understatement from the death scene in "Cool Hand Luke" applies in spades to the McCain-Palin campaign and may become their epitaph.

We can hope not as we remember the great films and say: RIP, Paul.

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