The Blog

About that Ad

10:34 AM, Jul 31, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

As you know, I haven't exactly established myself as a robotic defender of the McCain campaign. Thus, in the spirit of a very minor league Nixon going to an even more minor league China, I will be the first member of the right wing press to unequivocally defend the McCain ad that compares Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Former McCain aide John Weaver has settled some old scores and called the ad childish and lamented the campaign's "tomfoolery." As to the ad's purported puerility, I'll stick to assessing its effectiveness while noting that nobility seldom equates with impact in the world of political advertising. Weaver also observed that "John's been a celebrity ever since he was shot down." With that last critique, Weaver shows precisely why the ad is effective.

Some of the ad's critics have noted that Britney Spears and Paris Hilton aren't even such enormous celebrities. Tiger Woods and Brad Pitt, they rightly argue, are much bigger stars. But that analysis misses the point as far as Obama is concerned. Unlike Britney and Paris, Tiger Woods earned his fame. No one could accuse Tiger Woods of being a media sensation or being famous just for being famous.

And that's why linking Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton is so spot on. Think back on Weaver's strangely acid observation that McCain has been a celebrity since he was shot down. This critique tacitly acknowledges a critical difference between McCain and Obama. McCain has come about his circa 2008 fame the old-fashioned way - he earned it. Obama, on the other hand…Someone tell me precisely why Barack Obama "has become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions." Was it because of His spectacular achievements as a community organizer? Or His stellar work as a part-time lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School? Or maybe it all boils down to those good grades He got in law school.

The point is, like Britney and Paris, Barack Obama hasn't earned the status that He (like they) so enjoys. And then there's the further and still more relevant issue that He's unworthy of that status. Obama's ranking as a Savior would be easier to handle if it turned out He had all the right stuff to handle the presidency. But repeatedly, Obama has shown Himself to be ill-informed, historically illiterate and more impressed with His own superficial analyses than actual facts.

Think about the ad this way - it has annoyed many people. Most presidential campaign ads this cycle, especially the drearily self-righteous ones excreted by the spendthrift Obama campaign, have come and gone with no one either noticing them or caring about them. Why are people talking about this one? Because it hits close to home.