WHAT FLAILING LOOKS LIKE…. Is it me, or has John McCain’s message become completely incoherent this week?

Yesterday, he got things started by insisting he would fire SEC Chairman Christopher Cox if president, which was odd since a) Cox isn’t really to blame; and b) the president can’t fire the SEC chair. From there, McCain told an audience, “Sen. Obama’s own advisers are saying that the [economic] crisis will benefit him politically.” Pressed for even a shred of evidence to back that up, McCain’s campaign couldn’t think of anything. It was just another instance of McCain getting caught in another foolish lie.

And then McCain decided to go after Obama’s association with Franklin Raines.

Republican McCain released a new spot Thursday that quotes The Washington Post as saying Democrat Obama gets advice on mortgage and housing policy from a former Fannie Mae chief executive, Franklin Raines. […]

Obama’s campaign says Raines is not an Obama adviser and that McCain’s campaign knows it because Raines said so in an e-mail earlier this week to Carly Fiorina, a top McCain adviser. Obama’s campaign provided The Associated Press with a copy of the e-mail.

“Carly: Is this true?” Raines asks above a forwarded note informing him that Fiorina was on television saying he was an Obama housing adviser. “I am not an adviser to the Obama campaign. Frank.” […]

Obama spokesman Bill Burton … said Obama only met Raines once briefly at an event, and that Raines sought an introductory meeting with Obama Senate aide Mike Strautmanis. At that meeting, Burton said no advice was sought from or given by Raines, who also had served as President Clinton’s budget director.

“This is another flat-out lie from a dishonorable campaign that is increasingly incapable of telling the truth,” Burton said. “Frank Raines has never advised Senator Obama about anything — ever.”

I’d just add that while the attack is plainly wrong, it’s foolish even if we accept the attack at face value. If getting advice from an official at a troubled financial institution is a sign of bad judgment, then why is that two of McCain’s top advisors include John Thain, from Merrill Lynch, and Martin Feldstein, who serves on AIG’s board of directors?

The election is just 46 days away. Just as McCain’s message should be getting tighter, clearer, and more persuasive, McCain seems to be getting more reckless, more scatterbrained, and less coherent.

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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.