The Note: Rogue Wave

Just on the off-chance that Barack Obama isn't right where John McCain wants him (in front of 100,000 people in Denver?) -- and since we already know that Sarah Palin isn't always where McCain wants her to be . . .

What's at stake now for McCain and the GOP has morphed into something much larger than a presidential campaign.

On the ballot in eight days' time is the fate of a political party -- in an election that will align government for at least the next two critical years, if not considerably more.

We all know better now that to start talking "permanence," but the question for McCain and party leaders is less about how to win but how to avoid a wipeout that will take more than an election cycle or two to climb back from.

As Obama starts his turn to a closing argument -- his speech in Canton, Ohio Monday hits on themes of "new politics" he first sounded back in Springfield last winter -- Team McCain is left arguing over whose fault the closing is.

It's not just a running mate who's on her own (which worked so well for Dan Quayle) . . . or angry money folks . . . or GOPers saving reputations if they can't their party . . . or new clothes making another new story (but is a $50,000 spending spree really that much better?).

It's a party on the precipice of historic, across-the-board defeat -- and this is when it starts getting ugly.

"John McCain is losing in a way that threatens to take the entire Republican Party down with him," David Frum writes in the Sunday Washington Post. "In these last days before the vote, Republicans need to face some strategic realities. Our resources are limited, and our message is failing. We cannot fight on all fronts. We are cannibalizing races that we must win and probably can win in order to help a national campaign that is almost certainly lost. In these final 10 days, our goal should be: senators first."

"The Obama campaign is marching toward the biggest nonincumbent Democratic presidential victory since 1932, and the Democratic Party is fighting its way toward its best overall presidential and Congressional year since 1964," Bill Kristol writes in his New York Times column. "Situation not-so-excellent. Time for McCain to attack -- or, rather, finally to make his case."

Kristol has an expensive (and impractical) wish-list, and: "McCain has a chance to close this election in a big and positive way. He has a chance to get voters to rise above the distractions and to set aside the petty aspects of the campaign. He has a chance to remind them why they have admired him, and perhaps to persuade them to vote for him on Nov. 4."

A new GOP talking point (via Drudge): Obama, in a 2001 radio interview said the Warren Court "wasn't that radical," and said it was "one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement" that it sought to use the courts to achieve "redistributive change.": "The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth."

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