Jonathan Alter, Newsweek:
In the middle of John McCain's dopey Britney & Paris attack ad, the announcer gravely asks of Barack Obama: "Is He Ready to Lead?" An equally good question is whether McCain is ready to lead. For a man who will turn 72 this month, he's a surprisingly immature politician—erratic, impulsive and subject to peer pressure from the last knucklehead who offers him advice. The youthful insouciance that for many years has helped McCain charm reporters like me is now channeled into an ad that one GOP strategist labeled "juvenile," another termed "childish" and McCain's own mother called "stupid." The Obama campaign's new mantra is that McCain is "an honorable man running a dishonorable campaign." Lame is more like it. And out of sync with the real guy. ...... The real question is what all of this might mean for a McCain presidency. The list of troubling portents is growing long: repeated campaign staff upheavals reflecting poor management skills; abrupt reversals on big issues like tax cuts and relations with Russia (where he was superhawk one day and superdove the next); shameless pandering on a gas-tax holiday that even his own economic advisers think is a joke; confused handling of Social Security that annoys all sides of the debate; bogus charges (e.g., Obama is causing high gas prices, Obama didn't visit wounded soldiers because he couldn't take the press) that undermine his integrity; and an angry, bunker mentality among aides that one GOP operative, fearing excommunication from Team McCain if identified, describes as "lacking only a Luger and a cyanide pill."