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You stay classy, John McCain! at Three Roads Blog
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You stay classy, John McCain!

The Economist calls John McCain’s latest television ad “disgraceful.” The spot seeks to equate Obama’s “celebrity” status with that of Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton (it even shows pics of those two) and claims that Obama stands for higher fuel prices simply because he opposes off-shore drilling—the same drilling that every knows will do nothing to change short-term gas prices.

This and it’s not even August!

5 Responses to “You stay classy, John McCain!”


  1. 1 Nick

    Jeb,
    I saw this on the weeklystandard blog; it made me chuckle.
    Nick

    Paris Hilton Responds (Sort of) to McCain

    Paris Hilton’s parents have contributed to the McCain campaign. Although Paris Hilton is refusing to take any formal stand — brands don’t belong to political parties, don’t you know — she refused to object to the McCain ad and some suggest she may be a closet McCain supporter.

    Nonpartisan Paris Hilton — as neutral as Switzerland — refuses to be dragged into presidential politics.

    On Saturday night, at a Bridgehampton mansion rented by MySpace founder Chris De Wolfe, the haughty hotel heiress told Page Six she wasn’t distraught over being featured last week in a John McCain campaign ad which mockingly compared Barack Obama to Paris and Britney Spears.

    Though her parents, Rick and Kathy Hilton, are backing McCain and donated $4,600 to the Republican’s campaign, Paris said she isn’t a member of any party and isn’t endorsing any candidate. But, echoing the theme of the Obama campaign, Paris said, “I think we need a change.”

    Hilton was more interested in discussing her stalled singing career with Sony BMG honcho Charlie Walk as the two huddled in a lavishly decorated Moroccan tent in De Wolfe’s back yard.

  2. 2 Jeb

    Clearly Paris and Barack have a lot in common, as celebrities.

    But in all honesty, the ad really riles me—the same way the Swift Boat ads riled me in 2004. Both used the same Rovian calculation: attack your opponent’s greatest strength. In Kerry’s case, it was his heroism. In Obama’s case, it’s his charisma and galvanizing appeal.

    Ultimately, McCain’s ad denigrates the people who support Obama, and that’s probably why this line of attack will backfire. Attack ads are supposed to attack the candidate, not his or her supporters.

    And the ad also detracts from what had been the only unique thing about McCain: he truly seemed to have a distaste for Rovian politics. Apparently his desire for the presidency is more powerful than anything else. More powerful than his clear distaste for the bigotry of Falwell and his ilk; more powerful than his desire to curb global climate change; more powerful than his distaste for the impact of special interests on our politics; more powerful than his commitment to sound tax policy; more powerful than his desire to put forth real solutions to our energy woes.

    The man has shown himself to be a player. No principle (aside from the accumulation of power) is sacred.

    End of rant.

  3. 3 Nick

    Jeb,
    I understand that you are indignant. However, I don’t think this is like the swift boat adds, which interestingly Mr. T. Boone Pickens gave a few million dollars to, and which McCain consistently condemned as morally wrong. Charisma and appeal is something morally neutral which can be used for good or bad, heroism is simply good and should never be mocked. McCain’s contention is that Obama, because of his silver tongue and his youth among other things, has become wildly popular and beloved. I suppose you mean that this is insulting to Democrats because the Republican contention is that many people have been tricked, and upon closer inspection they would see that Obama is not what he claims to be, and that a choice about who should be our next president ought to be about more than ‘charisma’ and ‘appeal.’ Furthermore, about the issues on which they differ, Republicans obviously think they are right and the Democrats are wrong, and vice versa; however, Republicans think that people are being drawn to lefty principles because of Obama’s celebrity and appeal rather than the issues themselves. So McCain compares Obama to lightweight celebrities in order to get his point across and be heard. America’s adulation and romantic love for Obama must deflate at some point, and McCain is, I think wisely, trying to speed up the process. I understand you are offended by his choice of celebrities, but would you have liked any other celebrities? Celebrity is something which can be legitimately mocked, since it is morally neutral, but is usually confused for something good. Now, if you are true believing Democrat, I could see how you would be furious at McCain for trying to destroy your chance for change and progress, and insulted that he thinks you have been somehow swayed by someone’s charisma and rhetoric rather than his ideas. But if you are a Republican, and you see Obama’s rhetoric as either empty and/or disagreeable, then mocking his fame is good strategy which does not compromise your moral principles. It depends where you are starting from.

  4. 4 Jeb

    Republicans think that people are being drawn to lefty principles because of Obama’s celebrity and appeal rather than the issues themselves. So McCain compares Obama to lightweight celebrities in order to get his point across and be heard. America’s adulation and romantic love for Obama must deflate at some point, and McCain is, I think wisely, trying to speed up the process.

    I disagree, Nick.

    The McCain team knows all too well it can’t attack Obama’s actual ideas—they’re too popular with the electorate at the moment (with good reason).

    In fact, the worst thing that could happen to McCain is if tomorrow everyone compared Obama’s policies with McCain’s. When it comes to the issues that most people care about—the Iraq War, the economy, and fuel and health care costs—McCain just can’t compete on substance. Thus we have the hollow attacks (which have that ring of jealousy) on Obama’s popularity.

    What’s more, poll after poll shows a leftward shift among the population—a trend that started a couple of years before Obama came along. The Republican Party’s recent dominance of state governments has all but vanished and GOP voting rolls are dropping in almost every state. This is not Obama’s celebrity at work. This is simply the revival of the Democratic Party and the implosion of the Republican Party.

    Rather than play a losing hand and debate actual policy (never his strong suit anyway), McCain sees an advantage in capitalizing on Obama’s status as an unknown quantity and his unique background. He and his team are trying to paint him as some kind of empty/foreign/arrogant celebrity.

    It’s semi-shrewd politics, to be sure, but it ultimately degrades the McCain brand. Bush had no such brand to preserve in 2000 and 2004, so taking the low road required no great personal sacrifice. Attack ads will hurt Obama (they always work quite well) but they may hurt McCain to an equal degree. But they’re all he’s got in this election.

    Anyway, my guess is that McCain will focus his energies on two things for the rest of the campaign:

    1. Obama: Specifically, creating a negative image of him, a caricature that will invariably play on fear, nativism (“that Obama, he’s not one of us”) and racism. (Note: I don’t believe McCain is racist, but he’s clearly not enough of a maverick to abandon the GOP’s quite effective Southern Strategy.)

    2. Fuel prices: The one issue where perhaps McCain has found a political winner—but only because he has found a way to bamboozle low-information voters with meaningless proposals for off-shore drilling and gas-tax holidays.

  5. 5 Nick

    Jeb,
    Thanks for letting me comment on your blog. I have enjoyed every bit of it, and unfortunately I have to stop. School is starting and at this point I have to start focusing more on that, so you probably won’t see any more posts from me untill next summer. About McCain on ideas, I do think he has good substantial ideas about policies. I prefer his stand on Iraq (even though I don’t think the war ever should have begun), the economy, gas prices (his all of the above approach), abortion, judicial activism, etc. I’m ignorant about Health Care and I cannot speak intelegently about that issue – but I can say that I had a hell of a time figuring out the best policy for my family. It is a shame that Obama isn’t better at speaking extemporaneously; it would have been a real treat to get to watch lots of good old fashioned town-hall debates about the issues, Lincoln-Douglas style. But it’s not in Obama’s favor, so I guess I understand why he declined them.

    You are absolutely right about the country moving leftwards. I’m not sure if that’s because of the unpopularity of the war in Iraq, or if it’s because more people are becoming more liberal. But neither alternative seems particularly surprising to me. However, as the polls show, in this election there is plenty of room for people to be persuaded one way or another, i.e., there is plenty of room for Obama to work his magic.

    I know this will drive you nuts, but I do think Obama is rather arrogant and empty. But we already went over that in our long previous conversations on his rhetoric. It seems to me that McCain is showing what Obama is, rather than depicting what he is not. But I understand that you disagree with this. If you haven’t seen it already, you should take a look at McCain’s add, The One – it’s very funny.

    The part I find hardest to swallow is the contention that the Republican Party is secretly racist. I don’t deny that there has been lots of foul play and that there will probably still be so in the future; but that’s foul play and should rightly be labeled as such . Evil is evil, the Democrat’s hands are not exactly clean from the blood either. The Wikipedia article was clearly written by a liberal. It glosses over conservative values and the culture wars as if they are thin veneers which hide the truth of racism within. You know this is far from the truth, and that there is much more substance to, say, an argument against abortion. My wife is from Louisiana and a very educated doctor from the north made a deeply offensive comment to her that you couldn’t put up an Obama sign in your yard in Louisiana because someone would hang up a noose. That is often the way people think politics in the South works.

    The culture wars are real and big philosophical positions are at stake. While state’s rights have been used to promote racist goals, it is a logical fallacy to suppose that someone who believes in the importance of states rights is a racist. You should read McCulloch v. Maryland and then compare it with Brown V. Board. Marshall is probably rolling in his grave.

    I, of course, disagree with the ‘uppity’ post. I found this on the National Review which I thought was great.
    You Can’t Win [Roger Clegg]

    From an L.A. Times op-ed today, about why it’s racist to call Obama “elitist”: “`Elitist’ is another word for ‘arrogant,’ which is another word for ‘uppity,’ that old calumny applied to blacks who stood up for themselves.” Of course, “humble” is another word for “subservient,” which is another word for “slavish.” I guess it’s best not to say anything about Senator Obama, but isn’t ignoring someone because he’s black something that racists do, too?

    04/16 12:33 PM

    In any case, I love democracy and I love these discussions; there is nothing like a close election to get people thinking about politics. I can’t wait untill the debates. Happy blogging. Can’t wait to see you in Rado!

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