I think McCain’s pre-existing popularity makes him more appealing than Dole ever was, but I’m not sure what “Prodigal policy offerings” Kilgore has in mind; so far, the McCain message seems to boil down to his biography, the Surge, and … that’s about it.
Don’t forget that vital issue of earmark reform!
Seriously, though, I think a heavily biographical campaign is McCain’s best chance, just as it was his best chance during the primaries when his main rival was a technocratic governor who liked to get into the weeds (“the weeds are important,” Romney told us). Obama has already set up the opposition of past and future, and to the extent that there are many Americans who think the present and future look bleak the candidate who is supposed to represent the past might do quite well. In the mid-’90s, a bridge to the past had limited appeal outside cultural conservative circles. Right now the past may be looking pretty good to a lot of voters. Of course, Clinton tried something similar and failed, so maybe it is a bad idea, but what works with Democratic primary voters and what works with the general electorate may be very different.
Update: Ambinder has more details on the biography campaign.