This morning, I wrote:

McCain's campaign has always had a seat-of-the-pants, frat house style about it. That works okay when they're the rebels with a positive message. But when it's married to an unrelentingly nasty style, it comes off more like a right-wing college newspaper. It's just mean and juvenile. Especially when McCain's whole message is about patriotism and bringing America together for a larger purpose, I just wonder if it can work.

Now former McCain advisor, and still McCain admirer, John Weaver has basically the same reaction. Marc Ambinder has a huge scoop:

With the release today of a McCain television ad blasting Obama for celebrity preening while gas prices rise, and a memo that accuses Obama of putting his own aggrandizement before the country, Weaver said he's had "enough."

The ad's premise, he said, is "childish."

"John's been a celebrity ever since he was shot down," Weaver said. "Whatever that means.  And I recall Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush going overseas and all those waving American flags."

Weaver remains in contact with senior McCain strategists and, for a while early this year, regularly talked to McCain.

The strategy of driving up Obama's negatives "reduces McCain on the stage," Weaver said.

"For McCain to win in such troubled times, he needs to begin telling the American people how he intends to lead us. That McCain exists. He can inspire the country to greatness."

He added: "There is legitimate mockery of a political campaign now, and it isn't at Obama's. For McCain's sake, this tomfoolery needs to stop."

Over the last few years, McCain gave up nearly every substantive position that undergirded his maverick image. But he did retain the basic image that made him so popular among moderates -- the jocular yet dignified bipartisan figure who had a core sense of decency. (I acknowledged as much in a recent column.) Now, I think McCain is in danger of losing that as well, and that's why you see people like Weaver taking the extraordinary step of complaining in public.


--Jonathan Chait