By Patrick Appel
Joe Klein responds to McCain saying "Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign":

This is the ninth presidential campaign I've covered. I can't remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. It smacks of desperation. It renews questions about whether McCain has the right temperament for the presidency...Smart politicians leave the scurrilous stuff to their aides; in fact, a McCain spokesman expressed these words almost exactly on July 14. There is a reason why politicians who want to be President don't say these sort of things: It isn't presidential. A President exists in the straitjacket of literality. His words mean something. So John McCain has to literally believe that Barack Obama would "rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." I can't imagine that he does. He popped off, out of frustration.

Ben Smith tries to find a historical parallel with little luck.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.