Back from the Dead?

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 7, 2007; 7:14 AM

We knew that the punditocracy would be all atwitter about Fred Thompson's star turn with Leno while yet another lackluster debate between eight white guys quickly faded from memory.

And yet the loudest buzz out there has been about . . .McCain.

That's right, Senator John McCain (R-Toast), written off by the journalistic establishment as a pathetic shell of his former self, his poll numbers plunging along with his fundraising, is suddenly winning plaudits.

Maybe, just maybe, the media mob was too quick to toss dirt on his political coffin.

Clearly, McCain made plenty of mistakes this year, spending too much money and trying to run everywhere until he wound up firing most of his staff. Now the Arizona senator is running a bare-bones operation, with no TV ads, limited to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. And McCain has always been a guy who ticks off part of the Republican base with a maverick streak that, in his last White House run, attracted a healthy contingent of independents and Democrats.

What the prognosticators seem to have forgotten is that in an age of terror, McCain clearly has the most military and foreign policy experience. He has a heroic life story, having suffered through 5-1/2 years in a Vietnamese prison camp. He is saddled with his unflinching support of the Iraq war, but the war still enjoys considerable Republican support. And McCain has the knack of seeming to stand for something, even to people who disagree with him on key issues.

Will one strong debate performance change the dynamic of a campaign that now includes the Fredheads' favorite candidate? Who knows? But the people in that Fox focus group sure seemed to like McCain, and sure seemed not to like Rudy, the national front-runner. And remember, in the fall of 2003, how the national press had largely written off John Kerry?

Christian Broadcasting's David Brody sounds like a McCainiac:

"John McCain may have been left for dead a month ago when his campaign imploded but in New Hampshire, he roared back with a strong debate performance where he highlighted his military service, honor and leadership credentials . . .

"McCain looked like a very strong commander in chief. He had a game plan going in to let people know he's the man to lead in Iraq and beyond and if the military surge keeps working and political reconciliation begins to take hold, he may be in a position for a comeback.

"Now, as for Mike Huckabee, can someone explain to me why he's NOT in the top tier?"

The Weekly Standard gives McCain two thumbs up, starting with Matthew Continetti:

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