So the exciting news this morning is that McCain has an ad connecting Barack Obama to the Chicago/Illinois Democratic machines, which is news because… McCain made an ad about it. The more interesting question, which, ahem, some of us have been talking about for months now, is whether that matters, and if so, how much. Coincidentally, that’s what Ben Joravsky’s column is about this week.

And I think he’s got a pretty good point, or at least one I think, at this point, I agree with–Obama’s sin isn’t so much being part of the machine as not using his charisma and talent to do a damn thing about it, up to and including (unsuccessfully) endorsing the odious Dorothy Tillman.

And that’s the decision a lot of people are going to have to make in November. If that’s a deal-breaker, then it’s a deal-breaker, and if it’s not, it’s not. It really has a lot to do with one’s own moral calculus with regard to the other options, a calculus that’s different depending on whether you live here (where Obama will win handily) or in, say, Colorado (which is looking like a key state).

I will have to say that I’m surprised that the Obama campaign, which has loosened its grip on the high road, hasn’t gone about pounding Phil Gramm and his ties to McCain. Then again I am not one of the highly paid professionals who have been responsible for the rousing success of the Democratic party in the past decade.

As it stands now the RNC/Palin/whatever bump has gone the way of AIG and FiveThirtyEight‘s projections now look really good for Obama again. I think the conclusion we can derive from this is that the election will be dramatically, like 2000-level, close.