An evolution of tone

AN EVOLUTION OF TONE…. Looking over the various statements from the Obama campaign over the last day or so, I get the sense they’re feeling far less restrained.

There’s yesterday afternoon

“[I]t’s clear that John McCain would rather lose his integrity than lose an election.”

yesterday early evening

“The McCain campaign’s lies make it clear that John McCain would rather lose his integrity than lose this election.”

…this morning, after we learned Palin lied about having been to Iraq…

“The McCain campaign said Governor Palin opposed the Bridge to Nowhere, but now we know she supported it. They said she didn’t seek earmarks, but now we know she hired a lobbyist to get millions in pork for her town and her state. They said she visited Iraq, but today we learned that she only stopped at the border. Americans are starting to wonder, is there anything the McCain campaign isn’t lying about?”

…and then this afternoon.

“We will take no lectures from John McCain who is cynically running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern Presidential campaign history. His discredited ads with disgusting lies are running all over the country today. He runs a campaign not worthy of the office he is seeking.”

To be sure, there’s something of a risk in this. The Obama campaign doesn’t want to come across as whiney.

But I think it’s worth the risk. First, the criticism is fair and accurate. Second, an increasing number of reporters have noticed just how brazenly McCain has been lying, so Obama’s pushback will fall on receptive ears. (No credible media figure will see/hear this aggressive criticism and think, “This hardly seems justified.”)

Third, McCain is trashing his own brand with his relentless lying, and it’s the Obama campaign’s duty to help him out. And finally, it’s about time to start connecting McCain in the minds of voters to the word “lie.” The man has a character problem, and the Obama campaign’s criticism makes it more likely others will notice.

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Steve Benen

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.