Baiting McCain

BAITING MCCAIN…. One almost gets the sense that Barack Obama wants John McCain to confront him directly with some of these guilt-by-association attacks. ABC’s Charlie Gibson sat down with Obama yesterday, and asked whether he was surprised that McCain didn’t go in this direction during Tuesday’s debate.

“Well, I am surprised that, you know, we’ve been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days that he wasn’t willing to say it to my face,” Obama said. “But I guess we’ve got one last debate. So presumably, if he ends up feeling that he needs to, he will raise it during the debate.”

Obama, in this sense, is almost daring McCain to make these attacks directly. He’s practically questioning McCain’s fortitude, calling him out for using sleazy tactics behind Obama’s back, but not to his face.

I suspect Obama is baiting McCain for a reason — he wants McCain to lose his cool, make personal attacks, and try to change the subject away from the economy. Obama isn’t afraid of this scenario, he’d welcome this scenario.

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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.