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McCain's Awful New Ad

5:35 PM, Apr 1, 2008 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Maybe it was the battle fought in my high school when the administration tried to foist an honor code on us (the students voted overwhelmingly against), but I've always thought it was ridiculous to ask teenagers to rat out their friends. And this teacher, Mr. Ravenal--did he fight in the First World War or the Second? I'm not sure how much good it does McCain to focus on his high school days back at the dawn of the nuclear age. McCain started high school during the Truman administration for heaven's sake. I'm sure it's a good thing McCain's cheating friend was forgiven, I imagine corporal punishment was the order of the day.

Perhaps it's just that this ad pales in comparison to McCain's first, "Man in the Arena," which I thought was magnificent. Then again, by now McCain's probably locked up most of the electorate that holds T.R. and Churchill out as the great men of the 20th century. The only bright spot here: the cigarette smoke that wafts across the screen. Is it possible that the McCain folks are worried about losing the smokers to the nicotine sneaking Obama? That's the only explanation I can think of, and McCain would be better served in that regard if he were caught on camera smoking some of those fine Cuban stogies with his buddy Fred Thompson.

Update: Jonathan V. Last offers another perspective:

It strikes me that McCain's high school teacher ad is potentially very effective because what it's doing is highlighting Rev. Wright by inference. Wright was the "brilliant" man Obama admired. Wright helped form him and is a part of him. In contrast, McCain's mentor is a simple high school teacher who advocated playing by the rules.

Taken in a vacuum, I agree that the ad makes no sense. Seen in light of the last four weeks, I think it makes a lot of sense as an indirect attack on Obama, laying the predicate that his character can't be trusted with the Oval Office.