Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone spits it out and doesn’t care where it lands. Ice water in the face of all those saucer-eyed “journos” stuck in 2000. Jagged verses like this make the read worthwhile (warning: this guy is pissed, watching the devolution of a candidacy, and with it any hope that The Man — Rolling Stone circa 1999 — might return, declaring it all a very bad dream):

Some of us who have been mesmerized by the Obama-Clinton cage match during the past six months may have developed certain delusions about the state of American politics, in two areas in particular. One is the idea, much pushed by wishful-thinking media commentators like myself, that the abject failure and unpopularity of the Bush administration somehow means the Republican revolution is over, and the mean-ass hate-radio conservatism of Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh is finally dead. The other is the even more quaint notion that the historic, groundbreakingly successful candidacies of a black man and a woman have ushered in a futuristic era of political tolerance and open-mindedness.

It’s bunk, all of it, and nobody understands this better than John McCain. With his chameleonlike, whatever-gets-you-through-the-night ideology, McCain intends to use the same below-the-belt, commie-baiting, watermelon-waving smear tactics that Clinton used against Obama in the Democratic primaries, except at tenfold intensity. Once the victim of a classic racist smear job in backwoods South Carolina (where he was whipped in the 2000 primary after a Karl Rove whispering campaign suggested he had an illegitimate black daughter), McCain has now positioned himself on the business end of that same deal.

Like Hillary Clinton, an erstwhile vilified liberal who remade herself as a flag-waving, Sixties-bashing champion of “hardworking Americans, white Americans” once the remarkable candidacy of Barack Obama forced her off her old turf, the one-time “insurgent” McCain has finally decided to sail with the wind at his back by going dumb and courting the same talk-radio demographic that used to despise him. What enables him to do so is a key insight: that while George W. Bush may be unpopular as an individual, fear and hatred in this country have never gone out of style.