Writing for U.S. News and World Report, Bonnie Erbe wonders if Barack Obama has peaked too soon. Erbe notes that recent polling has John McCain pulling ever nearer to Obama and, after providing a handful of caveats, has this to say:

President Bush has run a ruinous administration. The economy is in the tank and not likely to climb out anytime soon. The Bush administration launched an unwinnable and financially devastating Iraq war. There is no reason for any Democratic candidate to be polling even with the Republican candidate at this point, unless that Democrat’s candidacy is horribly flawed.

McCain, by normal GOP standards, has run a disastrous campaign of his own. He can neither find nor keep good staff. He’s off message more than he’s on. And he’s produced his own series of flip-flops.

This is, of course, part of the typical media pattern of story production. Raise them up, knock them down, give them a comeback, knock them down again – it’s how media members keep things interesting. The news cycle is often no more than an artificial wave pool. But does Erbe have a point outside of causing a stir?

Not really. Her problem is, she completely underestimates McCain. Despite the Democrat’s full-force campaign to paint McCain as a Bush crony, many voters are smart enough to know McCain is not a Bush-style Republican. He hasn’t exactly proven himself to be worthy of the presidency, but he has not by any means disqualified himself. Many voters are still giving him a fair look and allowing him the chance to prove he is still the smart, honest politician he seemed to be in 2000.

As for Obama, his candidacy is not “horribly flawed.” He’s just working on solidifying his image. While McCain has been around for a long, long time, Obama is too new for anyone to really be sure of where he stands. That’s only a problem if Obama fails to solidify his positions. But I see no evidence that he is trying to slide un-vetted into the presidency. In fact, he is taking a lot of flack from his left flank as he takes center-leaning stances on a number of issues. If he keeps the center momentum going and chooses a moderate VP, I think we’ll see more and more votes shift his way.

This race is still Obama’s to win. McCain will give a good fight and could potentially pull out a squeaker, but I don’t think Obama has peaked. He still has room to climb.

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