Thursday, August 28, 2008

McNasty or McNice?

People in the McCain have been hyperventilating over this tv ad that is supposed to run this evening during Obama's speech. Here's what McCains' Communications director Jill Hazelbaker said about it.

JILL HAZELBAKER: Well, Mika, this is a historic ad. I think this is the first of its kind. Senator McCain is going to speak direct to camera to Barack Obama. I’m not going to give away many more details than that. But suffice to say it’s going to be a very exciting ad, and I think it’s going to get a lot of attention... Well, I'm going to keep a lid on it. But I think it's newsworthy to note that Senator McCain is going to have an ad that's going to air in battleground states around the time that Senator Obama is speaking tonight. And he’s going to be talking directly to his opponent. So, I'm going to leave it there, but it's going be very exciting and a lot of people are going to focus on it.

Ready for the best McCain ad ever? Brace yourselves; here it is.

I think I get the strategy here. McCain is trying to recapture the high ground, trying to cancel out all that noise about his Karl rove style tactics thus far. Trying to suggest that there's another McCain, not the one you've been tracking in the campaign but a different one who maybe wishes politics wasn't so nasty.
Here's my problem with it. McCain wants credit for taking one day out of his campaign to say something generous about Barack Obama. I don't think I've ever, ever heard Obama give a speech without acknowledging McCain's love of country and his heroic service. The worst thing I've heard Obama say about the man McCain is that he's wrong on the economy, wrong on the war, and that he's out of step with common people. Those are pretty standard political positions that can be argued.

By contrast, McCain has repeatedly cast doubt as to where Obama's loyalties lie. He's alleged that Obama would rather lose a war and win a campaign, that he puts himself above his country, that he trusts himself more than his country, that he's an appeaser, that he's cozy with terrorist organizations like Hamas.

By running this ad he seems to want people to forget all that. Notice the line in this ad, "tomorrow we'll be back at it." I think he means it. It'll be back to the old game plan. It's as if he thinks tearing down a man's patriotism and his character is mere sport. McCain is trying to erase the line between hardball politics and gutter politics. He got smeared by the gutter politics of Bush eight years ago and the only thing he learned from it apparently was that it works.

The old saying holds in this case - when a man says one thing and does another, watch what he does.


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