This post on Tapped accurately says some of the thinking I've been having about Saint McCain as of late:
...liberals who expect a secret socially liberal McCain to emerge from behind a mask of 0% NARAL ratings, votes for Robert Bork, support for complete bans on abortion, etc. are people you definitely want to invite to your next poker game.
I've been suprised by the NRO conservatives who think that McCain is "too liberal" for their taste -- and because I'm ripe for a good conspiracy theory, here is mine:
By positioning McCain - the likely nominee - as too moderate and mainstream for a true conservative, Republicans endgame is to try and get true moderates and independents to still vote for him in the general election. Republicans will still show up because Clinton or Obama are way MORE liberal than McCain, and this is basically their only hope at the general election.
It's not a particularly sexy theory, but it's all I've got.