LOSING GEORGE WILL…. On ABC’s “This Week” a couple of days ago, conservative columnist George Will was surprisingly candid in his critique of the presidential campaign, describing Barack Obama as “presidential, calm, and unflustered,” and slamming John McCain for “substituting vehemence for coherence,” and engaging in “unpresidential behavior.” Will added, “John McCain showed his personality this week, and it made some of us fearful.”

Today, Will expounded on this point in his Washington Post column, blasting McCain for “behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high.”

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

We’ve talked quite a bit lately about the Kevin Drum-labeled “‘Enough’ Club,” used to describe high-profile political observers who held McCain in high regard, but grew disgusted after watching his sleazy and dishonest campaign tactics. George Will’s disappointment with McCain is far different — he’s not talking about McCain being dishonest; he’s talking about McCain being unprincipled and immature.

Indeed, Will described McCain as “childish,” “shallow,” and suffering from a “Manichaean worldview.”

It’s hard to say how big a voting constituency Will represents. It’s worth noting, though, that he’s one of the most widely syndicated columnists in the nation, and helps shape the political establishment’s conventional wisdom.

To that end, having Will describe McCain as “unsuited” for the presidency is a fairly striking development.

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.