Magazine December 1, 2008, Issue

In the Snake Pit

Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain stands with vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin as he speaks to the crowd during his election night rally in Phoenix, Ariz., November 4, 2008. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
The sad end of the McCain campaign

Every losing presidential campaign is, to paraphrase Tolstoy, unhappy in its own way. But the McCain campaign in its final days risked descending into political opera buffa. A few days after the election, McCain aides were telling reporters different things about whether longtime McCain foreign-policy adviser Randy Scheunemann had been fired in the campaign’s final week.

Thus was the sad, sloppy end of the McCain campaign. It had punched above its weight in August and into early September. Then the financial crisis hit, and it spent a dreary month and a half slogging toward an almost inevitable defeat made all the

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