Or, more accurately, before he even announced he was definitely going to attend. Click the image for a full screenshot of the Wall Street Journal source page.
Although the fate of tonight's presidential debate in Mississippi remains very much up in the air, John McCain has apparently already won it -- if you believe an Internet ad an astute reader spotted next to this piece in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal this morning.
Shades of 'Dewey Defeats Truman' if you ask me.
McCain is getting pummeled for his stunt by former members of his own establishment.
The whole episode left even conservatives admitting that the McCain campaign looked erratic and a bit foolish with no apparent direction or guiding principle.
"It just proves his campaign is governed by tactics and not ideology," said Republican consultant Craig Shirley, who advised McCain earlier in this cycle. "In the end, he blinked and Obama did not. The 'steady hand in a storm' argument looks now to more favor Obama, not McCain."
Even Mike Huckabee is piling on:
Huckabee said Thursday that Sen. John McCain made a “huge mistake” by even discussing canceling the presidential debate with Sen. Barack Obama.
“You can’t just say, ‘World stop for a moment. I’m going to cancel everything,”‘ Huckabee said.
UPDATE: (Nicole) Bob Geiger points out that while a select few Republican bobbleheads in the media would be only too happy to defend McCain's hesitation to debate, the public was not so impressed and it was too big a gamble for even "Madman" McCain to risk.