Steve Schmidt, the new head honcho of the McCain brigades, is doing a good job shifting the media storylines in his boss' favor (check out CW compilation the Note to get an idea of how excited the press is about this story). Various other pundits are checking in to chat about the man -- here's Ambinder -- but I think Jon Chait's take is the best.

The problem with the McCain campaign all year has been his wretched flip-floppery. Is he a Bush-style conservative who's going to bash heads and rally the base on the campaign trail? That's what the Schmidt choice suggests. One really has to wonder if a Rove-style base rallying strategy is going to pay off in this political climate. Or, it's possible, though unlikely, that McCain is a moderate maverick. But that's the problem -- if, as Chait predicts, letting McCain be McCain is going to be the strategy, it's a daily crap shoot to see which politician will show up for the stump speech.

One more guess to be hazarded: Apparently, Schmidt is set to radically re-tool the McCain campaign's (insane) plan to have a different field-message-political plan in each region. That's going to take some time, and Obama already has a head start on McCain in terms of organization, thanks to the DNC, the primary that wouldn't die and his cash money. Even if Schmidt can punch up his national message and earned media to the point that it can move voters, will they be able to have the necessary ground operation to capitalize on that advantage in November? I doubt it.

--Tim Fernholz

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