Which interpretation is correct?
Option 1, from George Will: "McCain, whose reservoir of righteousness is deep, thinks the parlous condition of his campaign is the price of his principled behavior in supporting an immigration reform that is intensely unpopular with the Republican base (read: the party's nominating electorate) and the war, which is intensely unpopular with almost everyone else."
Option 2, identical to Option 1, from David Broder: "John McCain...is the most stubbornly principled person in the Republican field. He is being punished now for saying what he believes about Iraq and immigration, among other things."
Option 3, from Gail Collins: "His presidential campaign is falling apart and everyone is debating whether it’s due to his principled stand on Iraq or his principled stand on immigration. But the alternate plotline was the one in which the stalwart maverick senator sells out to everybody from the irrational religious right to the irresponsible tax-cut crowd, and then loses the nomination anyway."
This is quite enough McCainnery for one day, if you ask me. But I think the ratio of reverential conventional wisdom to alternative-but-also-correct analysis here pretty well represents what readers can generally expect from their pundits on any given point of order.