Did John McCain want to win?

There are many who feel that John McCain's straight talk express rambled and meandered in the latter part of his president seeking journey, derailing shortly after the surprising nomination of Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin.

Toward the end McCain's campaign just seemed unfocused, McCain himself seemed to lack the passion of a person who really wanted the presidency. He seemed reluctant to exploit Obama's real vulnerabilities.   Why?  Sure, some of this could be blamed on an incompetent staff but he was the head of that staff.  

Lisa Schiffren at National Review Online  speculates publicly  what many people thought privately--being a decent and principled man he too was caught up in the seemingly historic moment that Obama's candidacy represented and in some way, actually wanted him to win.  

The Fox News reporter who had covered the campaign, whose name escapes me, reported, forthrightly, that some McCain aides had felt for a while that their candidate had had a deep reluctance to impede the election of the nation's first African American president. That he had, perhaps, pulled punches and failed to strike as hard as necessary to win this thing, for that greater good. The report was infuriating, since more depended on the election than changing the race dynamic - which, it must be said, has been changed for some time, and did not require this particular symbol to validate it. To be sure, McCain must have known that his campaign was losing - and did not want to swing blindly. And maybe he didn't like being called "erratic," "desperate", and a "racist" every time the inconvenient facts of Barack Obama's short past came up for discussion.

But all Republicans who watched their candidate these past few months, must have been struck, as I have been, by the sense that he was holding back. I wondered, too often, how it could be that no one at the campaign could frame and muster the arguments that were clear to all conservative writers here and at the other publications and blogs that share our view. When the arguments were made, they were too little, too late, and garbled enough to drain their force. The campaign had it's (very serious) flaws, but it seems that the reluctance to aim and shoot cleanly, was due to the candidate's internal conflict here. Contrast that with the campaign style of the Vice Presidential candidate, who seemed quite interested in winning, and was willing to call things by name to make the case against the opposition.