If you're a competitive person -- and people running for President tend to be fairly competitive -- it's never fun to lose at anything, and White House runner-ups have famously smarted for years over coming up short. They exile themselves to beard-farming and bloat, or else they slink back into the Senate, fuming. But they are never happy. The one exception might be John McCain.
While he always enjoyed running for president, McCain never seemed entirely enthusiastic about the idea of winning. Think of the two times during the presidential campaign when he was the most upbeat: when his operation nearly went bankupt in the spring and summer of 2007, and then in October 2008, when it became obvious that the presidency was safely out of reach. This is because John McCain likes nothing so much as losing.
Blame it on his two great heroes, Ernest Hemingway's fictional Communist martyr Robert Jordan, and Marlon Brando's film version of the Mexican peasant rebel Emiliano Zapata. Both men meet gruesome ends fighting for losing causes. Given their example, John McCain probably would have been crushed if he'd actually won the presidency.
Anyway, with the unemployment rate at a 16-year high and foreclosures still spreadingacrossAmerica like a bad venereal disease, it's clear that the next four years aren't going to be pretty. We'll be too broke to be starting any more wars, which was the only part of the presidency John McCain was really interested in anyhow. Leave the policy details and numbers fiddling to the pinheads: McCain has always preferred to make grand statements about how this or that nation's Liberty and Honor must be defended, through war.
Absent any action on foreign fronts, he's also happy to take a pointless stand on a domestic policy issue, as long as it also has something to do with Honor. And that's why it's such a wonderful thing that he has returned to his beloved Senate, where for another two or eight or however many more years he can stay upright, he can rail against dishonest earmarks and dishonorable pork with zero effect while the government writes multi-billion-dollar checks to whoever will take them. He'll get to cap off his legislative career taking a futile stand against some ignoble if inconsequential thing, only to lose in the end -- which, for him, will be the biggest victory of all.