Inevitably, one part of the explanation is age. A lot happens between 63 and 72. But we also forget that much of the punch of McCain's candidacy was his anger at key segments of the conservative establishment that attacked him for not toeing the line on issues important to the religious right and on tax policy. That was his punch. That got his goat up. But most of his snark lines this season are meant to kow-tow to those same folks. And in any case, his manner seems to say, why am I up here having to do this anyway? I'm John McCain. Who's Barack Obama? Just make me president!We've heard a bit of this before, with reports from the McCain camp that McCain just hates Obama's guts, and has about as much regard for him as you would for a bird dropping in your morning latte. [elitist!] Because, that's really what Obama represents for McCain: the elder Senator played the good soldier, and stood aside for George W. Bush and didn't make too much trouble over the last 8 years. At least part of this was to cement his place as the GOP nominee for this year.
But then the GOP ran the government in to the ground, and the party's fortunes with it. So now McCain's got his only shot at the Big Chair, and he might have made a good run at it, if the Democrats hadn't had the good sense to basically run a national campaign before they even selected a nominee. (While I didn't support her, I think nobody can deny that the long campaign made Sen. Clinton a much stronger candidate. Had she prevailed, I think she too would have gone on to beat McCain like a drum.) So his one chance has basically been taken from him before he even got going.
But there's also the arrogance factor, fed in no small part by a sycophantic press that continues to treat John McCain's war record as if it was written on stone tablets by the fire of Yahweh herself. McCain clearly thinks that he's the only politician in his party or any other that's qualified to be President. The fact that growing numbers of American electors disagree with him probably doesn't keep him up at nights. After all, he's John McCain, and who the fuck do they think they are?