“Fluid” seems to be everyone’s favorite word to describe the Republican race. Maybe that’s why, looking at John McCain, I can’t help but think of embalming fluid.
But somehow, McCain isn’t dead yet. After delivering a solid debate performance last week and snagging the Manchester Union Leader ’s endorsement yesterday, McCain must be feeling young again. He signed up for not one but two big media appearances today, first this morning with pal Don Imus and then this evening for an MTV/MySpace forum (7 p.m., MTV). He even secured the coveted endorsement of Curt Schilling. To Imus, McCain insists that “we’re coming on very well.” (Listen here .)
The problem is, the polls don’t reflect these small victories, at least not yet: McCain still trails a distant third in New Hampshire, and he’s invisible in Iowa or South Carolina. But he’s still fun to watch. For example, peep this magical interview between McCain and MTV veejay Sway Calloway. The money quote: “I intend to work hard for the youth vote of America. That’s why I go on ‘Jon Stewart.’ That’s why I go on ‘Letterman.’ That’s why I go on ‘Leno.’ That’s why I’m here with the worst interviewer I’ve ever had.” Sway rolls with it: “That’s an honor coming from you, because bad means good, right?” McCain goes, “Bad, bad, bad, bad,” and sounds like he’s about 80 percent joking. (A tone he’s pretty much mastered .)
Some have theorized that should Huckabee take Iowa—a less outlandish scenario now than it was just two weeks ago—neither Romney nor Giuliani will have enough momentum to win New Hampshire, so McCain will take the Granite State. I don’t buy it. He’s got his New Hampshire diehards, but why would Giuliani and Romney supporters swing over to has-been McCain instead of rising-star Huckabee, assuming they swing at all?
Either way, it’s impressive that McCain is still kicking. He keeps a schedule that would ruin someone a third his age. Whether appearing before a college-age crowd tonight makes him look alive or out of touch, he’d be wise to take his daughter Meghan’s advice: “Keep it real.” Because, as she says , “you can smell when someone’s being disingenuine.”