I spent a long time talking with a good friend of mine last night - a fellow expat American here in Japan - about the recent turn of events in the campaign. Our conversation was mostly centered around the recent negative direction of the McCain campaign and the Obama camp's response to it.
And I was kind of "wondering out loud" as we were examining what's going on whether Obama might be pursuing, in rough terms, a "rope-a-dope" strategy. Basically, a) waiting until he has a serious financial advantage to break out a truly heavy advertising blitz (something that's been discussed here), and b) putting a lot of stock in what they anticipate to be some significant success in the debates and the re-packaging and presentation of his candidacy at the convention (topped off by his big speech there). In the meantime, basically responding to attacks as they surface and presenting key policy positions (like the energy policy this week) that will be tied together at the convention, and letting McCain keep slugging away and using up a lot of his energy/resources too quickly.
Basically it just seems to me that Obama could be pushing back harder against the recent attacks (and could do so without going negative), but seems to be in a somewhat restrained mode of operation right now. It really feels to me like they're holding back.