A divided McCain camp?

A DIVIDED MCCAIN CAMP?…. The Wall Street Journal reports today that inside the McCain campaign, there’s division over the bloodthirsty tactics.

Top McCain campaign officials are grappling with how far to go with negative attacks on Sen. Barack Obama in the final weeks of what is turning into a come-from-behind effort.

Sen. John McCain has allowed a series of increasingly harsh broadsides in new campaign ads and in speeches by his wife, Cindy, and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin. But the Arizona Republican has rejected pleas from some advisers to launch attacks focusing on Sen. Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Some McCain campaign officials are becoming concerned about the hostility that attacks against Sen. Obama are whipping up among Republican supporters.

The article didn’t elaborate on the nature of the campaign aides’ “concerns,” and I’m curious to hear more about them. Are campaign officials concerned because they’re relying exclusively on hate, fear, and ignorance? Are they concerned because the campaign’s irresponsible tactics might drive their enraged supporters to do something dangerous? Or are they concerned that McCain’s disgraceful conduct won’t help turn the polls around?

Two other quick angles to consider. First, the article says McCain has sworn off playing the Jeremiah Wright card, fearful of appearing racist. If McCain doesn’t narrow the gap against Obama quickly, I’m guessing he drops his reluctance and goes after Wright by the middle of next week. (Anyone want to lay odds on that?)

And second, I can’t help but wonder how much this “internal dissent” is for show, as if the sleaze is more palatable if the public is led to believe some that even some of McCain’s own staffers aren’t comfortable with it.

If there are honorable people still working for the Republican campaign — a dubious proposition, to be sure — they can talk on the record about their discomfort, they can resign, or they can keep helping this disgraceful ticket. This “officials are becoming concerned” stuff isn’t going to change anything.

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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.