John Heilemann on how McCain lost his brand:

Much of this departure from the modus operandi of “the old McCain” was chalked up to Schmidt, who had run the Bush war room under Karl Rove in 2004 and who believed that running hard negative against Obama was McCain’s only chance to win. But many longtime McCain watchers say that the candidate’s own gathering sense of frustration made him ripe for such a change. “It offended him that Obama walked away from his promise to do town-hall debatesand that the press didn’t seem to care,” says Dan Schnur, McCain’s 2000 communications director. “And then he did a series of nontraditional campaign events, like his poverty tour, and was alternately ignored or mocked by the media. And my guess is that gave Steve much greater leverage in saying, ‘Let’s try a different approach.’”

I don't buy this any more. I've come to the sad conclusion that McCain's brand was just that. His real core is about power and ambition, divorced, when necessary, from principle or patriotism. You learn who people really are when they are asked to do the right thing when it might hurt them, not when it helps them anyway. We just learned something that has always been true about McCain. It isn't pretty.

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