OBAMA: MCCAIN ‘PANICKED’…. In an odd turn, John McCain this morning blamed Barack Obama for the crisis on Wall Street, saying it was Obama’s judgment that “contribut[ed] to these problems,” and it was Obama who was “busy gaming the system,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.

Soon after, Obama delivered a speech in Miami where I think he struck the right note: he accused McCain of feeling “a little panicked.”

“This morning Senator McCain gave a speech in which his big solution to this worldwide economic crisis was to blame me for it,” Obama said.

“This is a guy who’s spent nearly three decades in Washington, and after spending the entire campaign saying I haven’t been in Washington long enough, he apparently now is willing to assign me responsibility for all of Washington’s failures.

“Now, I think it’s a pretty clear that Senator McCain is a little panicked right now. At this point he seems to be willing to say anything or do anything or change any position or violate any principle to try and win this election, and I’ve got to say it’s kind of sad to see. That’s not the politics we need.

“It’s also been disappointing to see my opponent’s reaction to this economic crisis. His first reaction on Monday was to stand up and repeat the line he’s said over and over again throughout this campaign — ‘the fundamentals of the economy are strong’ — the comment was so out of touch that even George Bush’s White House couldn’t agree with it.”

As narratives go, a “panicked” McCain is a pretty good one. The more McCain campaigns on relentless lies and constant attacks, the easier it is to see McCain’s tactics through the prism of a panicked candidate, desperately hoping that one more dishonest smear might be worth a point or two in the polls.

“It’s kind of sad to see.” Quite right — McCain is the tragic figure, who traded his integrity for popularity, but ended up with neither.

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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.