Tea Leaves

On the subject of this new McCain ad sleazing Obama, in our editorial meeting this morning I told Greg that I was interested in what more we could find out about the disjuncture, if there is one, between the public reception of this stuff and the media reception. My sense is that over the last 48 hours or so, McCain’s Celeb/Blackening campaign has been turning against him among pundits. But that doesn’t mean the ads aren’t resonating with voters, at least the class of voters McCain’s campaign is trying to pull back into their column.

One goes into these analyses with the assumption that campaigns don’t make demonstrably stupid decisions. But that’s of course often a poor assumption. My own take — or maybe more, the possibility that seems the real issue — is that these ads probably are stiffening the support of some voters McCain absolutely needs to even make a go of it in November. But he’s simultaneously endangering what is undoubtedly his biggest asset — which is the residual public perception that he’s a truth-teller, a politician above the normal partisan scrum and game playing. More and more he comes off as an angry and not infrequently out-of-it old man.

We may even see an odd hybrid of these two impressions in the line we saw from prestige pundits on Hardball a couple days ago — that McCain’s of course honorable, so the only way we can explain his increasingly sleazy campaign is that he’s too out-of-it or episodically confused to be aware of what his campaign is doing.

Meanwhile, a new Pew Poll says there’s ‘Obama fatigue’ in the electorate — 48% of voters (no doubt overwhelmingly Republican) say they’re “hearing too much about him.” Take a look at their report. I’m not clear that there’s more here than a unique crafting of questions. But it’s worth a look.

Finally, the mild run-up in McCain’s numbers appear to have crested and are beginning to subside.