Via the Standard, here’s The Lamb taking his new tough-guy approach aimed at reassuring the base that he won’t let the GOP push him around the way they did Kerry. But since he is, after all, the Lamb, it’ll air only in Georgia lest wider exposure upset the balance in public perception of who’s running the more negative campaign. The insinuation, obviously, is that McCain gave Reed a pass during his Senate committee’s investigation of Abramoff and now he’s getting a quid pro quo in the form of fundraisers organized by Reed. Read Politifact to see how much of a “pass” Reed actually got. It’s true that he wasn’t charged with anything, but he was named in the committee’s report 197 times, was tied to “numerous unseemly Abramoff efforts,” and was “plagued by scandal as a result.” So much for the quid pro quo. Even TNR concedes that it’s — “maybe” — unfair.

But now that the door is opened on guilt by association, Team McCain barges through. Quote:

“Barack Obama’s ad is ridiculous. Because of John McCain, corruption was exposed and people like Jack Abramoff went to jail.

“However, if Barack Obama wants to have a discussion about truly questionable associations, let’s start with his relationship with the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, at whose home Obama’s political career was reportedly launched. Mr. Ayers was a leader of the Weather Underground, a terrorist group responsible for countless bombings against targets including the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and numerous police stations, courthouses and banks. In recent years, Mr. Ayers has stated, ‘I don’t regret setting bombs … I feel we didn’t do enough.’

“The question now is, will Barack Obama immediately call on the University of Illinois to release all of the records they are currently withholding to shed further light on Senator Obama’s relationship with this unrepentant terrorist?” –McCain spokesman Brian Rogers

McCain has brought up Ayers before but I don’t think he’s run any ads about him. Look for that to change. Exit quotation: Aren’t they supposed to be against “smear politics” and “divisive tactics”?

Update: Given the relative sharpness of these two attacks, Barry O’s warning that McCain doesn’t know what he’s up against seems even more pathetically funny now than it did yesterday.