Here's Roger Simon of Politico making that case:
There are those whispering in McCain’s ear that if he gets into the gutter, he can get into the White House. Ads are not enough, they tell him. He must launch the attacks personally and without reservation.A second, emerging narrative is that McCain has welcomed the invisible hand even as he appears to take the high road on the stump - and that the invisible hand carries the fingerprints of Karl Rove.
But honor is still an important word to John McCain. He would like to win the presidency and retain his honor.
Some tell him he cannot do both. At this point, however, he is trying.
Which narrative is more true?
The GOP tactic of negative attack is now so routinely attributed to Rove that it may not matter if he's involved personally or the ghost in the machine.
But Simon's argument fails to take into account very recent history. In St. Paul, Republicans spent two nights tearing into Obama (including from a VP nominee he never really respected) before McCain came out on the third to give a speech heavily laced with post-partisan rhetoric. At that point it was clear McCain had embraced cognitive dissonance in an effort to simultaneously whip up the base and run a campaign of ideas and honor. What we are seeing now is the downside of an inherently unstable strategy that held together only as long as McCain remained tied or ahead in the polls. With the base now worried about a loss, they have amplified the attacks to the point that the ideas side is being drowned out. McCain must now spend time and energy trying to regain control in a turbulence of his own making.