There is a scene in Orson Scott Card’s Xenocide where an angry man stokes up the mob. At some point, the mob gets uglier than the man intended, and he unsuccessfully tries to calm it down. Then, the mob goes off and does something pretty awful, and the man feels bad. The lesson was that he wasn’t using the mob, the mob was using him.
McCain’s campaign reminds me of that story. His crowds have been getting uglier after such things as Palin repeatedly saying, “He’s not like us” about Obama, and that he “pals around with terrorists;” along with associated ads.
Josh Marshall suggests that there is no real contrition in McCain, just a realization that the attempts at Obama character assassination aren’t playing well.