"As the G.O.P.’s long night of the long knives begins, myths are already setting in among the right’s storm troops and the punditocracy alike as to what went wrong. And chief among them are the twin curses of Bush and the 'headwinds' of the economy. No Republican can win if the party’s incumbent president is less popular than dirt, we keep being told, or if a looming Great Depression 2 is Issue No. 1.
"This is an excuse, not an explanation. It absolves McCain of much of the blame and denies Obama much of the credit for their campaigns. It arouses pity for McCain when he deserves none. It rewrites history.
"Bush’s impact on the next Republican presidential candidate did not have to be so devastating. McCain isn't, as he and his defenders keep protesting, a passive martyr to a catastrophic administration. He could have made separating himself from Bush the brave, central and even conservative focus of his campaign. Far from doing that, he embraced the Bush ethos — if not the incredible shrinking man himself — more tightly than ever. The candidate who believes in 'country first' decided to put himself first and sell out his principles. That ignoble decision is what accounts for both the McCain campaign’s failures and its sleaze. It’s a decision McCain made on his own and for which he has yet to assume responsibility."