Prompted, it seems, by concerns over John McCain's foot-in-the-mouth admission that he did not know the number of houses he owned, aides to the Senator, GOP officials and conservative activists unleashed a torrent of attacks in an effort to deflect attention to Barack Obama.
Late Thursday afternoon, the Republican National Committee launched the website
ObamaRezkoShadyDeal.com, designed the committee wrote, to "provide users with videos and the latest news pertaining to Barack Obama's lack of judgment and questionable dealings with campaign fundraiser and convicted felon Tony Rezko."
Earlier in the day, the American Issues Project, an outside conservative group, put out a television ad attacking the presumptive Democratic nominee for his relationship to Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground.
"How much do you really know about Barack Obama? What does he really believe?" asks the ad, likely released independent of the day's fracas. "Consider this, United 93 never hit the Capitol on 9/11 but the Capitol was bombed thirty years ago by a terrorist group called Weather Underground.
Even earlier, the McCain campaign put out another web ad ridiculing Obama as a quasi-messianic, dangerously vacuous celebrity politician. "Back by popular demand," spokesman Brian Rogers wrote, "The One is back to lead us to the Democratic convention in Denver."
Even earlier, Rush Limbaugh took to his radio show to blast Obama again for his Rezko ties.
"The second thing I have to point out to you is that I don't care how many houses McCain has, he and his wife did not get a sweetheart deal from a fraud embezzler like Tony Rezko to buy their houses. But the Messiah did. The Messiah got all kind of sweetheart deals with Rezko, and who knows who else."
And even before then, Rogers came out with a statement hitting Obama on a host of different, disjointed and personalized charges.
"Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses? Does a guy who worries about the price of arugula and thinks regular people "cling" to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship really want to have a debate about who's in touch with regular Americans?"
The Kitchen sink counter attack is almost certainly a coordinated effort to move the media - if not the political discussion - away from McCain's gaffe. And, by and large, the press has not taken the bait, likely because the meme that McCain is an elitist is fresh compared to the Obama lines (which were hit to death in the primary).
In a way, this could be a blessing for the Obama campaign. In all likelihood, McCain and his GOP allies were set to trot the Rezko and Ayers attacks out as the election approaches. They still might. But having those cards played in late August makes them all the more unremarkable if they are brought up again in late October.