It’s too thinly sourced to be taken very seriously, but since our readership revels in the idea of the ‘Cuda being the scrapper to McCain’s squish, I figured you’d dig it.

The bit about Mark Salter does strike me as plausible.

With his electoral prospects fading by the day, Senator John McCain has fallen out with his vice-presidential running mate about the direction of his White House campaign…

Mark Salter, McCain’s long-serving chief of staff, is understood to have told campaign insiders that he would prefer his boss, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, to suffer an “honourable defeat” rather than conduct a campaign that would be out of character – and likely to lose him the election.

Palin, 44, has led the character attacks on Obama in the belief that McCain may be throwing away the election and her chance of becoming vice-president. Her supporters think that if the Republican ticket loses on November 4, she should run for president in 2012…

A McCain official confirmed that there was dissension in the campaign. “There is always going to be a debate about the costs and benefits of any strategy,” he said.

“After November 4, the feelings of individuals will come to light. It is only natural and will be expected.”…

A spokesman for McCain denied he and Palin had fallen out over her aggressive attacks. “Vice-presidential candidates are typically the tip of the spear and further out in front than the candidate for president. This is pretty standard fare,” he said.

Quoth an unnamed Republican consultant: “Sarah Palin is no fool. She sees the same thing [i.e. a likely defeat] and wants to salvage what she can. She is positioning herself for the future. Her best days could be in front of her. She wants to look as though she was the fighter, the person with the spunk who was out there taking it to the Democrats.” Any reason to believe that she and McCain really are at loggerheads? Well, (a) as the Times reminds us, she’s publicly questioned the campaign’s strategy in pulling out of Michigan as well as McCain’s decision not to go after Obama on Wright, (b) while Maverick’s begun inching away from the brass knuckles approach, she’s still telling people how eager the base is to see them take the gloves off, and (c) she’s famous in Alaska for not deferring to her political patrons when she thinks there’s something to be gained from opposing them. She’s built her career on it. If she wants to go out there and take it to Obama, there’s not much McCain can do except scream at her on the phone and hope she listens.

Exit question one: Is McCain’s attempt at calming the crowd yesterday the first inkling of the Salter “strategy” being put into effect? It’s worth noting that Palin herself eased off the Ayers stuff, but only in order to hammer Obama with one of the most red-meat social con speeches I’ve ever read. Exit question two: If they do lose, just how bad will the fingerpointing within the campaign be? I have visions of anonymous quotes starting to appear in the NYT circa mid-November about Palin’s Couric interview and McCain not being “tough enough”…