Is Karl Rove Trying to Sell McCain as a Bad Boy?

Yesterday, Politico's Ben Smith noted that John McCain was getting bad press, from The Washington Post and The New York Times in particular, in reaction to his recent attack-dog posture. Smith concluded:

[McCain's] campaign has clearly done the math and decided it's worth the cost....
But does the McCain campaign really think there's a cost attached to increasing negativity from the mainstream press? Or is the campaign trying to induce that negativity, knowing that it will never go too far (we're talking about the press and McCain, after all) and believing that bad press is very, very good for McCain?

The Times blames Roveites:
... [McCain] clearly tossed his inhibitions aside earlier this month when he put day-to-day management of his campaign in the hands of one acolyte of Mr. Rove and gave top positions to two others.
I assume the culprit is Rove himself, working behind the scenes. I assume he's trying to turn McCain back into what McCain was in his youth, a bad boy -- and not just a bad boy, but pretty much the bad boy of Rove's dreams.

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