Some writers on dKos have begun voicing a suspicion which my inside voice first began to articulate at the Democratic National Convention. As we heard speaker after speaker -- Hillary, Bill, Biden, and Obama himself -- praise McCain as an honorable man, we got a universal sinking feeling. Surely, we were not going to get the same level of respect from the GOP; Obama's nice guy stance just meant we would all finish last. Again.
But now I cannot help but wonder if the Obama campaign wasn't giving McCain the Billy Martin: a second chance, a chance to play fair, a chance to do the right thing before a can of righteous whoop-ass is opened. And, like Pacino in "Ocean's Thirteen," McCain said no to the Billy Martin, his campaign turning from predictable levels of exaggeration to the flat-out lie. Now, we're starting to get a new tone from the Obama campaign: not "McCain is an honorable man who just doesn't get it," or even, ""McCain is a liar," but, rather, "McCain used to be an honorable man, but now he's sacrificing his integrity to win the White House." There's a kind of resigned sadness to this message -- a tone that says, "We didn't want to say bad things about John, but he's made us do it." And that -- a moral high ground that still allows Obama to pull no punches -- would not have been possible without the Billy Martin.