It wasn’t long ago that Mr Straight Talk was crowing about how he would take the high road in this election. This was always a transparently ludicrous notion, but the press seemed to take it at face value. Whether McCain himself is the instrument of the smears and swiftboating is immaterial: it’s coming from the right either way. That said, it is kind of startling to see him renege on this pledge so quickly.

Apparently someone pulled McCain aside and explained to him the fundamental dynamic of the race: “John, you are running to continue to the policies of the Republican party, and a president who’s the least popular in modern polling. Your signature policy is proposing a century-long extension of a war that the American people hate and want to see brought to a close. You readily admit you don’t know anything about economics, but were all too happy to go tell the hardworking people Michigan that their jobs aren’t coming back and they should just suck it up. You told the American people who were losing their homes it was their own goddamned fault before realizing that sticking to this line was political suicide. You then attempted to make up for this by proposing a gas tax holiday that would amount to a direct transfer of millions of dollars from the United States treasury into the coffers of the House of Saud, Vladamir Putin and Hugo Chavez.

There is not a single issue that you win on: not one. Either you do everything in your power to turn Barack Obama into Nat Turner or you lose.”

A man with true integrity, with such a vaunted sense of “honor” would likely walk away from such a Faustian bargain. But whatever integrity John McCain once had, he’s long since sacrificed it on the altar of his monstrous political ambition. The story since 2003 is consistent: he will do and say whatever it takes to make himself president, whether it means kissing up to Jerry Falwell or John Hagee or endorsing the same tax cuts he condemned, or wading into the Fox News sewer to talk smack about his opponents’ pastor.

This is the fundamental dynamic of the race: Barack Obama will want to talk about the war and the economy and John McCain will want to talk about the Weather Underground.

What’s absolutely terrifying is that it will largely be left to the MSM to choose which is more important.