Rachel Maddow: "McCain will win."
"McCain is going to win. ... Unless something really drastic happens on the Democratic side, I think McCain sails to a big 51% win."
She says it's a matter of Democrats' "campaign malpractice."
"[McCain) will enthusiastically embrace not only Bush -- but Cheney, and run as a bellicose, warmongering adult. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will have firmly established themselves in the mind of the electorate as squabbling kids who don't deserve the office."
The Air America Talk host and MSNBC analyst admits being a cynic about elections; and November's a long way off, but, she says, "John McCain has had a long career being tongue-kissed by the press, and there's no signs of that abating. The stuff he's getting a free ride on are unconscionable. [The Democrats] are letting John McCain win -- it's campaign malpractice."
We talked to Maddow directly after Obama's big defensive speech on race.
Did the speech help him? It was too early to know when we spoke, but Maddow says, "It aimed high, that's great." Despite it was a difficult topic that makes people uncomfortable, he resisted, she says, "making a Mitt Romney lowest common denominator pablum speech."
He said America is still segregated in a number of ways, says Maddow. "White people and black people say things in their own communities they don't say to each other. And there's a whole lot of anger on both sides and the anger is understandable. That's got us into this rut -- this racially divided rut we can't get out of if we keep talking about it in the same old way."
It was ambitious, she says. But by presenting a nuanced view of race, and not pandering, or patronizing, he asked a lot of the American people.
We wondered if the speech effective with average voters? Maddow asks, "Are we really as capable of absorbing the nuance, complexity and difficult truths as this speech implies Obama thinks we are?"
Obama's negatives were over 50% for the first time in the polls after his pastor problems emerged. Maddow: "If he's able to tamp that down, or bring his positives back up again to counteract those negatives I guess we'll see it."
But, she says, this train wreck could have been avoided. "This is worth talking about as a political blunder. Just in terms of the Obama campaign not having adequately inoculated against this controversy... because they knew it was coming."
It's amazing to me that this got out though Bryan Ross on ABC News. We know how he got this stuff: the sermons were for sale! If you're running for president, and you know your pastor is controversial, and his sermons are for sale, you better be the one who buys them, not ABC."
While the kiddies are squalling, making new messes and providing fresh footage for Republican attack ads, McCain has "... lobbyists running his campaign; was one of the Keating 5; he's incoherent on everything from the economy to the war, which is his signature issue," says Maddow. "His best friend is Joe Lieberman!"
Although Obama has shown his electability by how well as he's done in the primaries, she says Barack has never demonstrated an ability to survive a contest with a Republican "and all the slime and lies" that go with one.
"Hillary's actively presaging some of that -- she's gone after him in a very Republican way. But he's not doing great at defending himself."
They'll continue as they have now for more than a month more, she says. "John McCain is being romanced by the press and can get away with anything. They won't have an appetite for hitting him that's any stronger than their appetite for hitting each other."
Maddow says there are a million reasons McCain should be beatable, but he now has the power of the Republican electoral machine behind him.
"The Democrats apparently don't have one of those machines, so even if he were Alfred E . Neuman, he wins."