When I posted yesterday on McCain’s “low road strategy”, I was a bit surprised by the latest attack ad, called “celeb” for another reason. It felt distinctly weird.
For one thing, who would buy the idea that a Harvard law graduate — indeed, editor of the Harbard Law Review, which signifies that he wasn’t any old law graduate — is as shallow as Paris and Britney? And then, why make an ad that highlights just how popular your opponent is?
The Obama campaign responded with humour:
“On a day when major news organizations across the country are taking Senator McCain to task for a steady stream of false, negative attacks, his campaign has launched yet another. Or, as some might say, ‘Oops! He did it again.’”
Others have noted more sinister messages. The spot has been compared to this:
Well, you know, massed crowd of Germans chanting in support of charismatic leader with classical monument in background… Not sure about that one.
US blogger Chris Bowers says that McCain has, “just played an entire campaign’s worth of identity politics in a single ad.” He believes the comparison with the sexually active young blondes suggest:
- Obama is a girly-man.
- Obama will sleep with your white daughters.
- Obama is too young.
- Obama is a Hollywood liberal.
I’d say the sexism is in the use of two women to suggest shallowness and preening celebrity. No male role models of that type were available. Yeah right.
Even former McCain strategist John Weaver has criticised the ad, calling it “childish.”
“John’s been a celebrity ever since he was shot down,” Weaver said. “There is legitimate mockery of a political campaign now, and it isn’t at Obama’s. For McCain’s sake, this tomfoolery needs to stop.”
Comedian Steve Young jokes that “Satirists Refuse to Spoof “The Spoofiest Campaign Commercial…Ever”. Sacha Baron Cohen: “I can’t tell if they’re joking.” But that’s the whole point of the exercise. The ad gets the pundits chewing over the latest Republican attack line (“no, he’s not really a preening celecbrity..”) and gets coverage way beyond the time bought to air it.
Bottom line: McCain is an arsehole.
[Update: William Bradley at HuffPo has a go at explaining the sudden burst of negative advertising from the McCain campaign.]