Roger L. Simon

McCain's strange popularity

On a day it has emerged  John McCain is actually ahead in one major poll, Robert Novak (to whom we should all lend our emotional support in his battle with cancer) begins his recent column: “In the contest for president, Barack Obama is a magnetic candidate supported by a disciplined, well-organized campaign. John McCain seems wooden, with a campaign that appears to be in shambles. Yet Obama’s lead in the polls over McCain is fragile because he so far has not won the support of a majority of American voters.”

I’m not sure if Novak is just spouting this conventional wisdom to make a point, but I question the assumption. McCain may not be a good speechmaker, but he is far from wooden one-on-one and in town hall meetings.  It is Obama who appears uptight in these venues, which are the more telling ones when it comes to revealing personality and behavior.  Prepared speeches have their place, but everyone knows they are just that – prepared.  Adam Nagourney and others are sucking their thumbs over the strange phenomenon of McCain hanging so close (even being narrowly ahead) in a year that would normally so completely favor the Democrats.  They have all kinds of theories, but Occam’s Razor tempts me to the simplest.  McCain seems like a regular guy – an attractive trait not very common among politicians.