So this weekend, the McCain camp called up all the reporters they're still speaking to to be like, "fuck it, we're going negative." The reporters were like, "going?" And McCain's people were all, "no, like super negative!" Then Sarah Palin showed up saying nonsense and the press backlash was immediate. You don't call up the press corps to announce that you're finally utterly trashing your Honorable Brand, for good, when they're in the middle of tearing you apart for abandoning your Honorable Brand to begin with, guys. Sheesh. But Steve Schmidt can't grasp that it's not 2004 and, more importantly, John McCain thinks he is still the honorable one, because he personally dislikes Barack Obama. Regardless, Obama's in a fine position right now! He's winning, his favorables are great, his Brand is still in tip-top shape, and everyone is crowing about how much smarter his campaign has been. So why's he going and ruining that with this Keating 5 business? Obama's people called the members of the press in their tank today to point them toward Keating Economics, an Obama campaign site about John McCain's role in the Charles Keating mess, because no one remembers that anymore. Their problem was not so much in doing this, it was in making it an official Obama-funded campaign stunt announced to the press, and not just quietly pushing Keating stories, Rove-style. Yes, the Keating 5 scandal is a legitimate talking point. Yes, McCain is certainly more tangibly and credibly "linked" to misdoings by Keating than Obama is linked to misdoings by a hippie mad bomber in 1968. But guys, you are just opening yourselves up now to the worst story in the world: "Both campaigns intensifying attacks! Film at 11! Obama sez McCain's corrupt, McCain says Obama's a terrorist, boo hoo how the standards of discourse have fallen!" (Hi there Politico!) Now indications are the newly emboldened press will not treat the factually accurate if slightly spun Keating story as equivalent to the sleazy insinuations of Palin. But it's still a dumb move when all the momentum is already in your favor. (Or, of course, maybe it's brilliant. We're sure as hell no experts.)