And yet this conveys too much suggestion of planning and intent. I have more the sense of someone desperately casting about and losing control of the situation itself. Even hypocrites can get in over their heads. Indeed, in a more nuts-and-bolts strategic sense McCain has really gotten himself into a hole because the campaign he's been running has almost entirely been premised on the claim that you should be scared of an Obama presidency. Not that McCain, if he'd run a very different campaign, couldn't have run on issue disagreements with Obama. But right now if you take away fear of Obama becoming president, there's almost no reason not to vote for him since McCain has basically conceded the issue agenda to Obama. If you look at every poll for months, voters are dying for change. Fear of Obama is the only thing keeping him from leaving McCain in the dust. Take that away and McCain's done.
Just as it is possible to feel some sympathy for Bush in the waning days of his presidency, you can actually feel for McCain. While I certainly have become to doubt the "old McCain" of 2000 who I would have voted for, you definitely get the sense of a man whose personal integrity has actively or passively been compromised and he knows it.
As for Palin she is just a freak, a cardboard cutout (also my wife's term) who the sooner we year less of her, the better.