In watching the adorable family moment tonight with all of the Obamas--and it wouldn't be a picture-perfect moment if the youngest child didn't completely steal the show out from everybody--I was struck by a random thought: can McCain even offer something similar?
I believe it's a relevant question: we all know about his second wife's reluctance to even mention her own half-sisters, and her own insistence that she was an only child at her father's funeral. But can McCain even bring his entire family on stage for this convention?
In particular, the person I'm thinking of is Bridget, their adopted daughter from Bangladesh. I suspect a substantial portion of the GOP "base" would not be so thrilled to see a "brown" person on stage with the McCains. Of course, I also don't see how they could leave her out of a family moment like that without earning some coverage in the press. (Of course, this would then probably turn into an even bigger story, because it's the kind of "gotcha" moment what passes for the press loves these days.)
As someone who remembers the ridiculous smears in 2000 (and who voted in the MA Republican primary in the vain hopes that Bush wouldn't be selected as the GOP nominee), I remember the Rovian smears about McCain's alleged "affair" and all the other mud that was flung around in that race. However, at eight years' remove, I don't think the Republicans have changed enough to accept the realities of McCain's family. Unless they're willing to engage in heavy cognitive dissonance (although admittedly that's never stopped the GOP before), I don't see how McCain can take the chance.
At the same time, I think the cost of eliminating the "family gathering" aspect of the campaign would potentially hurt McCain, by effectively isolating him. Without the family around him, he becomes more of a crotchety old man running as a scold (and sleazebag, but that's a diary for another day). You don't get a sense of a dynamic family--or a family dynamic.
So, as I set out above, I don't see how McCain matches the telegenic Obama family without incurring a heavy political cost; I also don't see how he avoids it without paying a similar price.
Of course, I'm sure whatever action he takes, the fact that he's a POW will play a role in his decision calculus.