There's a lot to say about John McCain's new advertisement, but I think his former adviser John Weaver says it best: The ad is "childish" and "diminishes John McCain ... 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."
I'm one of those liberals who used to admire John McCain, and frankly expected him to prosecute a very honorable, issue based campaign. But this latest campaign model, with false personal attacks about troop visits and gas prices combining with adolescent stunts isn't just unpleasant, it may also be ineffective. I'm mainly referring here not to the false negative advertising on television, a proven vote getter, but rather the smaller-run or web only videos, like the one today, designed to stir up media attention.
Jon Chait has gotten at this as well. These ads are designed to create cultural resentment of Obama as "the Other," the kind of identity politics Mark Schmitt wrote about in the magazine a few months back. But when these videos are designed to create earned media attention, and filtered through the press, there is a danger that the negative narrative will boomerang, which is what seems to have happened in the last week. Obama's traveling spokesperson noted that McCain's campaign "released another false ad on a day when he's being attacked for running false ads."
Until the polls give us more information about how these ads affect public sentiment, if at all, my hypothesis is that McCain, who is now facing criticism from the right for his tactics and wavering on tax orthodoxy, will be forced to either once again shake-up his campaign and try to be the ebullient maverick of old or consign himself to the fate of another old GOP curmudgeon, Bob Dole.
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