Now appearing at Maverick HQ:

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Hotline detects a similarity. In McCain’s defense, he’s clearly intending this as a commentary per the takeoff on the “Change You Can Believe In” slogan. It’s not theft, in other words, it’s just … lame, and doubly worrisome for its lameness in light of Tuesday night’s enervating prebuttal speech to Barry O’s clinch. If you haven’t read Mark Halperin’s incisive list of 15 things McCain underestimates, do so now, as it taps into the assumption that lies behind this graphic. Namely, the election’s shaping up to be less of a contest between Obama and McCain than between Obama and NotObama, which is ironic given how the Democratic primary began (but didn’t end) as a contest between Clinton and NotClinton. How does McCain change that dynamic? Step one, let’s stipulate, involves not ripping off the other guy’s logo and catchphrase. What’s step two? Stress your advantages, I guess — but, er, what are those? Maverick’s at an organizational disadvantage, a media disadvantage, and a money disadvantage so potentially enormous (a $300 million Democratic take?) that threats of “stretching” the GOP to fight something like a 50-state campaign don’t seem so idle. One advantage he might conceivably have is with those townhall forums they’re planning, but see Halperin’s #13 about that. Obama doesn’t have to win them, he just has to avoid sounding like an idiot, which should be easy enough.

Exit question: Should McCain embrace the Obama/NotObama dynamic, as he seems to be doing here, or should he start hammering his own Narrative (read: war hero) before he gets sucked into Obama’s gravitational pull? He can and will do both to some extent, of course, but one will predominate and NotObama only makes sense if you think the Messiah’s negatives are so negative that McCain can skate through on the sheer terror of the electorate at having Barry O at the helm. That might have worked if the Democratic primary had gone a different way, but alas. More 624787 please, stat.