For weary McCain staffers, the campaign is not over. Now comes the after-campaign, the period following a high profile loss when each failure is hashed and rehashed in the press and everyone with a score to settle goes on background with reporters to settle them.
Did McCain attack too little or not enough? Was the choice of Palin a success or a disaster? Why didn't McCain respond better to the fiscal crisis? Was the campaign even winnable?
The circular firing squad actually formed weeks ago, even before the campaign officially ended, when McCain aides were quoted trashing Sarah Palin, and the firing hasn't stopped since.
As a recent participant in one of these time honored Washington, DC rituals, I can attest to how brutal and debilitating they can be.
So the McCainiacs have my sympathies. It's hard enough to lose. The blame game is like rubbing salt in the wounds. So in the midst of all this criticism and finger pointing, let me say something nice about Team McCain, not just because they could use it but because they have earned it:
Steve Schmidt is one of the best war room operators of all time, with an uncanny sense of how to control a news cycle.
Nicole Wallace is one of the most effective public spokespeople for her candidates I have ever seen. When I went up against her in 2004 I knew I would be lucky to win a draw.
Mark Salter is a loyal warrior for his guy, and a gifted wordsmith with the ability to tug at the deepest chords of the American spirit.
Bill McInturff put his own credibility on the line in the end to accurately predict that the vote margin would be narrower than some polls were predicting.
To each of them the following advice:
Don't read the papers and the postmortems. Take a long vacation, presumably out of the country.
You can look me up if you are in London this weekend.
Howard Wolfson also blogs at GothamAcme.Com