But something in his presence had changed. It lacked the bravado of his post-9/11 breast beating when he promised to return the terrorists' war with our own war, defiantly asserting "Bring 'em on!" and later declaring the mission accomplished. Who would he now "bring on"?
And what mission could be accomplished by his authority during the remaining days of his failed presidency?
Even his pallid effort to reassure the nation was upstaged by John McCain's theatrical decision to suspend his campaign, cancel his Friday night debate, and return to Washington to cast his first vote in the Senate since - well, only the congressional archivists can recall the date.
How bizarre. In purporting to play a leadership role , McCain emerged as a Hollywood stunt man in the virtual reality of his perilous climb to the White House. Did he really think that Obama would accept a few days off from his own schedule? And did he really think that in the clumsy rearranging of the debate calendar that he could offer Sarah Palin more time for her on-the-job training on the path to the vice presidency? Were the Democrats dumb enough to offer her a delay in her scheduled debate with Joe Biden?
If we can assume that that McCain has to be smarter than he sounds at times, the fallback position is that he is taking a lot of bad advice from the people around him - people who have a great stake in spoon-feeding him to the safe-keeping of the Oval Office. That's the polite version. And as each day passes I have to wonder what's under his $5,500 cosmetics that would tell us who John McCain really is.
I am Abe Zaidan and I approve this message.