McCAIN IN FREEFALL….About six months ago, John McCain was not only the presumptive favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination, he was the GOP candidate recruiting some of the top campaign talent available. McCain even picked up some of the same people who helped George W. Bush smear him in 2000, assuming it was more important to hire the best talent than hold a grudge.

By April, the campaign was struggling, so McCain shook up his team by eliminating some non-senior staff positions and cutting some consultants’ contracts. The campaign characterized the moves as “minor adjustments.”

Today’s moves are anything but minor.

Republican John McCain reorganized his campaign Monday, cutting staff in every department as he raised just $11.2 million in the last three months and reported an abysmal $2 million cash on hand for his presidential bid. […]

Some 50 staffers or more are being let go, and senior aides will be subject to pay cuts as the Arizona senator bows to six months of subpar fundraising, according to officials with knowledge of the details of the shake up.

It’s likely that McCain is firing at least 50 staffers to show the GOP establishment and major donors that he recognizes that there’s a problem with his campaign and that he’s taking steps to improve his chances. But just as April’s shake-up didn’t help McCain get back on track, July’s will probably have about as much success.

Indeed, if the announcement was about “sending a message,” it’s conveying the wrong message — McCain looks desperate and directionless today. And with a paltry $2 million cash on hand, he’s not even in a position to turn things around.

Late last week, a reporter asked McCain whether he’d consider ending his presidential campaign in light of his sagging poll numbers and weak fundraising. “That’s ridiculous,” McCain said. “Why in the world would I want to do that?”

Once those questions start, it’s often difficult to make them stop.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.