John McCain has a case of it. A front-runner has good poll numbers that drive good fundraising that drives good press in an ever-reinforcing cycle. McCain has put this process into reverse, with poll numbers, fundraising, and news coverage all building on each other–in the wrong direction.
Stu Rothenberg writes about McCain here, suggesting that he needs to re-integrate his personal heroism and life story into his campaign the way he did in 2000. Maybe. But I think a big problem with McCain’s campaign is exactly that it is a self-conscious reprise of 2000. His constant invocation of “straight talk” (e.g. “My friends, let me give you some straight talk on that…”) is a mere echo of a time when straight talk was something fresh and exciting and not a tired catch-phrase.
I’m not sure what McCain has to do to revive his campaign (avoiding driving it into a ditch on immigration would have seemed the obvious thing to do). But I do know that whatever it is will have nothing to do with 2000, but with the here and now in 2008.