John McCain appears to be demonstrating his long memory in an interview with USA Today:
“I believe that people are interested very much in substance,” McCain said. “If it was simply style, William Jennings Bryan would have been president.” (Bryan, a noted orator, lost three presidential elections as the Democratic nominee in 1896, 1900 and 1908.)
It might be interesting to hear McCain’s recollections about the 1896 presidential campaign. I would also be interested in hearing John McCain’s childhood memories of John Adams after watching the HBO miniseries.
Joking aside about what this example might say of McCain’s age, it is amazing to see that the same candidate even got a shot three different times. That certainly would not happen again. Richard Nixon got a second shot, but not many politicians could even do that today. Maybe Al Gore could win the nomination a second time if he sought it considering both the unusual circumstances surrounding his loss and the way in which he has changed over time. A second loss would certainly close the door even for him.
As for McCain’s argument in the interview, he is making a serious mistake if he underestimates the substance of Barack Obama. Mark Halperin has listed the many ways in which McCain is mistaken for underestimating Obama. For example, number thirteen:
13. How powerful debates might be when the allegedly inexperienced Obama of allegedly questionable judgment goes toe-to-toe with McCain, even on national security, and is therefore deemed of sufficient strength and stature to be president by many.