Start with this:
John McCain's Pennsylvania communications director [Peter Feldman] told reporters in the state an incendiary version of the hoax story about the attack on a McCain volunteer well before the facts of the case were known or established -- and even told reporters outright that the "B" carved into the victim's cheek stood for "Barack," according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.
John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told TPM Election Central that McCain's Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, "You're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to teach you a lesson."
People are strangely eager to exonerate McCain's national campaign:
TPM's Greg Sargent wrote
this afternoon that McCain Pennsylvania
spokesperson Peter Feldman pushed local television outlets to cover
Todd. So far there's been nothing to link McCain headquarters to the
But Peter Feldman is also the person who uttered these words:
“The fact is that once Governor Palin was elected and had an opportunity to look closely at the [Bridge to Nowhere] project, she killed it. She fought for Congress to kill the provision, but they sent the funds anyway. Palin fired the kill shot by not using a dime of that money on the bridge. ”
(Palin campaigned as a champion of the bridge when she was running for governor. The project was killed a year before she took office. )
Feldman has also commented on the two campaigns' joint 9/11 statement, McCain's New Jersey Latino outreach, and on the first debate to New York media. He's elsewhere described as "regional communications director" or "McCain campaign spokesman in New York and New Jersey."
The point: He's not some single-state flack, he's a high-level campaign official who is authorized to speak on behalf of McCain on a variety of issues. He simply served as cut-out for this particular op.
Then consider this:
The email was sent by the Pennsylvania Republican Party and was signed by top Pennsylvania Republican fundraisers, including a former state supreme court judge.
Mr. Ayers was quoted in the Sept. 11, 2001 edition of The New York Times, printed before the attacks, saying he believed that his group, The Weather Underground, “didn’t do enough.” The Weather Underground had bombed several government buildings in the 1970’s that resulted in several deaths — including those of three police officers. He was not referring to Al Qaeda or the Sept. 11 attacks.
And, working off of a common refrain of Mr. McCain that Mr. Obama had once described Mr. Ayers as “just a guy in the neighborhood,’’ the letter goes on to ask, “If a known terrorist lived in your neighborhood, would he just be a guy in your neighborhood, or would you be calling the FBI to have him removed?”
The campaign says the email "had been released without their authorization and that they had fired the strategist who helped draft it, Bryan Rudnick." Mr. Rudnick claims it was authorized. I believe him.
To sum up, the McCain campaign and the Republican party in Pennsylvania have implied that a vote for Obama is a vote for Hitler, and that black Obama supporters will beat, sexually assault, and mutilate McCain supporters. They have done it in a way that leaves all the heat on local operatives, and insulates the national campaign.
The best part: I predict McCain will drop 5 points in the polls here over the weekend.