Tarred and Heeled

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The last couple of days, Politico (here) and God-o-Meter (here and here and here) have been all over the back and forth between the McCain campaign and the North Carolina GOP over an ad the latter put up tying two Democratic gubernatorial wannabees in the Tarheel State to Obama/Wright. (Both have endorsed Obama.) The McCain campaign, including the candidate himself, forthrightly denounced the guilt-by-association once removed, but the North Carolinians pushed back, claiming that they were simply raising questions about “patriotism and judgment,” not race. (Since they weren’t charged with playing the race card, one might conclude that this is a case of what psychotherapists consider affirmation by denial.)
Politico thinks that McCain was concerned about blowback from such advertising. Others, more cynically, might view the GOP as getting the best of both worlds: a race-and-radicalism bump among NC voters plus punditocratic credit to McCain for high-mindedness and principle. My sense is that there’s enough of everything to go around: blowback, bump, credit for McCain. McCain has, in fact, not stayed entirely out of the Wright-cum-bitterness fray. I’d say that from his campaign’s standpoint, he wants to be able to handle this toxic material very carefully. What he doesn’t need is a lot of ham-handed locals forcing him to be more hands-off and censorious than he wants to be.
Update: Then there’s the view that the real object of the exercise is to help Clinton over Obama in the primary–either to keep the Democratic going as long as possible or because of a belief that Clinton would be easier than Obama to beat in NC in November, or both.
Later Update: So now, it seems, the ad won’t ever be seen on the air. It’s only (gasp!) been available on the web. Ninety-one thousand views so far. You be the judge.
Still later update: Whoops! Maybe not.