Sometimes the very thing you're looking for
Is the one thing you can't see

Sometimes the snow comes down in June
Sometimes the sun goes round the moon
Just when I thought our chance had passed
You go and save the best for last

Do you believe in miracles?

Stories depicting John McCain as the ultimate "Comeback Kid" are everywhere.

Even stolid conservative columnist, Robert Novak, supremely connected and not given to flights of fancy, waxed sanguine yesterday, as he pronounced McCain the "GOP's Last Man Standing."

Novak writes: "canny Republican professionals [view McCain] as the best bet to win the party's presidential nomination. What's more, they consider him their most realistic prospect to buck the overall Democratic tide and win the general election."

Novak praises the candidate for his sublimely rugged constitution, which McCain demonstrated in spades "during his six years of torture in a communist prison camp," but also more recently in his "personal determination" to carry on his presidential campaign long after all rational observers (read "canny professionals") had given him up for dead.

You don't have to convince me of McCain's character or his November viability. Way back in March of 2006 (only my sixth post on this blog), I sang his praises and endorsed his candidacy. Based on the specific challenges we currently face, I remain convinced that McCain was the absolute right choice for this cycle.

But (dramatic pause) it is not going to happen.

Conservative opposition to McCain remains deeply entrenched, bitter, and potent. Twenty-one months ago I underestimated the resistance to McCain. Fool me once...and...I won't get fooled again. McCain remains deader than a doornail.

The McCain comeback scenario hangs on a number of contingencies
(which are improbable when taken together):

1. Huckabee holds on to Iowa. Not impossible--but not likely in my view.

2. McCain "finishes strong" (third place) in Iowa. Not likely--McCain has never run strong in Iowa. Among other problems, his "straight talk express" is not ethanol-compatible.

3. Independents in NH abandon Obama and other attractive fruitcakes and come out for McCain. Again, not likely. Why would they?

4. At the crucial moment, the GOP establishment (conservative talk radio, blogs, non profits, etc.) experiences an epiphany, suddenly embracing "Maverick McCain" and admitting grievous error. Not in this lifetime.

5. Fred Thompson proves as lifeless as advertised. I am not so sure.

What actually could happen:

Dean of Iowa political pundits, David Yepsen, averred this week that third place in the Hawkeye State equals death for either Obama, Clinton, or Edwards in the greater Democratic contest; however, the three-spot in the GOP caucus offers new life for the lucky Republican also-ran (I agree).

I continue to believe that Romney will buy first place in Iowa, Huckabee will finish a respectable second, and Fred Thompson may well take third--showing himself the surprise of the night. Romney would emerge from Iowa battle-tested and victorious--but not invincible. Assuming McCain's surge in New Hampshire is not completely manufactured by the media, Romney, Rudy, and McCain should fight it out in the Granite State—with Romney again emerging victorious but not dominant.

During all this, Fred continues to enjoy an opportunity to emerge—and make his stand in South Carolina and on Super Duper Tuesday.

My contention for months has been that Fred Thompson is a taller and statelier version of McCain without the "independent" baggage (tax cuts, Kyoto, and immigration reform). It is not surprising that many conservatives are re-evaluating McCain during this desperate moment—but, once that reconsideration proves unacceptable, Fred likely emerges the most suitable (perhaps the only viable) alternative.

I continue to believe that it is not too late for Fred. We'll see.

Disclaimer: This message paid for by “Fred Thompson for President” (just kidding).