Important Caveat: The following paragraph is not offered as a veiled prediction.

I remember distinctly watching the Today Show at some point during the early stages of the Republican primary in 1980 when Tom Pettit of NBC News pronounced the political career of Ronald Reagan officially dead. Not too long after that, Reagan fired John Sears as his campaign manager, went back to being Reagan, and won the nomination easily.

Even before his latest troubles, I had counted out John McCain with sincere regret. I would not be at all surprised if he bowed out of the race in the very near future (hours not days; days not weeks). On the other hand, it would not surprise me if McCain persevered through Iowa and New Hampshire. After all, he is tough as nails. It would SHOCK me, however, if McCain re-emerged as a viable candidate a la RR.

Here are a few reasons why McCain is not Ronald Reagan:

1. Charisma. McCain lacks the movie star good looks and stage presence, not to mention the Reagan gift for communication. Of all the candidates for president, McCain is the most ardent and spot-on regarding the war. No matter, he seems incapable of delivering that message to a wider audience.

2. True-blue believers. I know a lot of people who like McCain, but I cannot think of anyone who worships him. Back in 1976 and 1980, a whole host of us saw RR as a political messiah.

3. The Kitchen Cabinet. In addition to an army of awestruck admirers out in the heartland, Reagan enjoyed an intensely loyal coterie of really smart and sophisticated political operatives who believed in him completely. McCain had the best staff money could buy. Now he has no money and no staff.

4. The Base. Reagan always had his detractors--but they were on the other side of the political divide. The most virulent hatred for McCain comes from within the GOP.

5. The Message. Reagan articulated core convictions he had rehearsed and perfected over the course of three decades. Even when adopting a new position (right to life, for example), Reagan hammered it home like a lesson he learned in Sunday School back in Dixon, Illinois. McCain, exceedingly principled and full of core convictions, ironically, strikes voters as an opportunist. Too often GOP loyalists see McCain as prone to adopting trendy positions to impress the Washington intelligentsia.

Much of this is unfair--but sometimes the ball bounces that way.