In addition to everything else that's gone wrong, the McCain campaign is suffering from out-of-control metaphors. According to Adam Nagourney and Elizabeth Bumiller, "Concern in G.O.P. After Rough Week for McCain", NYT, 10/11/2008:
“My sense of where things are: John McCain beat back what was a political climate that would have snuffed out any other candidate in the Republican Party,” said Nicolle Wallace, a senior adviser. “He’s beat back every hurdle that was ever placed in front of him.”
Beating back a climate is a step on the way to commanding the tides of the sea to go back, it seems to me. And a competitor who deals with hurdles by beating them back is unlikely to win the race.