July 31, 2008

Serves Its Purpose

For the past month or so, John McCain has been struggling to get noticed by, well, pretty much anyone. He's found a way to touch a nerve, though -- the "celebrity" ad that his campaign put together and is running to burn through the rest of the primary money before the public funding and its attendant spending limits kick in after the RNC. Obama and his supporters have criticized the ad and some have gone so far as to call it "racist," but McCain is defending it. I think he should. Decide for yourself -- here's the ad:

First of all, it's not racist. The momentary flash images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton do not suggest (to me, at least) the racial stereotype of the sexually voracious black man preying upon naïve, innocent white girls. Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are neither naïve nor innocent. There is no hint whatsoever of a desire by Obama to sleep with either of them. (Why would he? He's already got a hot wife.)

Secondly, it criticizes Obama's policy platform and reminds voters that charisma alone is not the reason to vote for a candidate. Blunting the impact of Obama's charisma is an important campaign goal for McCain and it's absolutely correct that a President's superficial media appeal is, at the end of the day, low on the list of reasons why one should vote for him as opposed to his opponent.

Now, I'm not 100% sure that the policy content of the ad is all that accurate. It's certainly not true that Obama is in favor of more foreign oil, although it would be fair to say that implementing Obama's policies would have the result of making the country more and not less dependent on foreign oil. It seems that both McCain and Obama favor variations on the recently-implemented cap-and-trade system for pollution control amongst electricity producers, so the "tax on electricity" thing doesn't make a lot of sense to me. On the other hand, suggesting that Obama's policies, taken as a whole, would result in higher and new kinds of taxes seems to be a very legitimate criticism of what he proposes. An Obama Presidency is going to be expensive.

But advertisements work on an emotional level as well as a factual one. And the emotional question: "Is he ready to lead?" is a powerful one indeed, and that's a strong card for McCain to be playing.

And, the advertisement serves its tactical purpose very well indeed: shifting momentum. The campaign has moved back into the mode of an exchange between the campaigns instead of the Barack Obama Show. People are talking about John McCain again.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

"Is he (Obama) ready to lead?" Yeah, just like Reagan was in 1980. Reagan was the last "inexperienced celebrity" to run for president, and much of his message was based on hope. Reagan even held talks with a sworn enemy that already had nuclear weapons. Go figure.