This clip from the final Obama-McCain showdown is making the rounds:
My first reaction was bemused surprise at a national candidate using scare quotes to make a point. But after a while I remembered one of McCain's final breakout moments from the 2000 primary campaign, when he pummelled George W. Bush for accepting the pro-life plank of the GOP platform… which would prohibit legal abortion with no exceptions.
Some element of McCain's popularity, before this campaign, came from the impression that he was a moderate on all of the issues that so irritate independents about the GOP. That 2000 moment was formative in this. This week's moment reveals how tough it is to maintain that kind of image in the heat of a campaign. It doesn't exactly help if (and both candidates have done this) you alter your position and sound just as passionate as you did before.