In a sense the revelations of Mark Penn's 'xenophobia' memos is old news, a post-mortem on a campaign that was all-consuming three months ago and now part of history. But seeing the memos beyond the message is instructive, highly instructive for another reason.
During the campaign there was a lot of clucking about whether the campaign's message just accidentally stumbled on to charged words and associations. And now we can see what was obvious at the time -- that the people in charge of the message weren't sloppy and unlucky but rather what you would expect, professionals following a detailed plan.
Now how about Sen. McCain? You see his ads lining Obama up with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, a new ad with the tagline "hot chicks dig Obama" (yes, those are the actual words in McCain's ad) and countless montages of Obama as pop music sensation. How do you think McCain's memos read?
Only the deeply naive or the deliberately oblivious -- which regrettably includes the greater number of the people covering the campaign -- don't know the answer to that question.