Monday, August 4, 2008

No More Mr. Nice Guy?

For months, we McCain fans have been tiptoeing around the Elephant in the Room (or should we say the, er, Democratic Animal in the Room (you know which one I mean). McCain has been voiceless because everyone is busy fawning over Obama: the Democrats of course, the media, the international community (who don't give a rat's patootie if the dollar sinks and our taxes and gas prices go through the roof). This week McCain finally called them on it, and he did it in rather dramatic style.

This is the "scorched-earth" approach to marketing: it is bold, it is memorable, and people will either love it, or hate it. Early reports suggest over a million people have seen it, so on that front it's an unequivocal success. But if I'm being perfectly honest (which I always am), I have mixed feelings about it. I absolutely think the comparison to vapid celebrities is accurate. I also think, while people are reluctant to admit this, this ad may provoke more actual thought than a meaningful 30-second generic hand-shaking and flag-waving spot. But I hate it that McCain has headed down a road from which there truly is no return, and now I have to defend a truly honorable man from accusations that he's hitting below the belt (even though he's really not).

In McCain's defense, there are waaaaay worse things that can be said about Obama. When critics dragged wife and pastor and family into it, even though most Americans had those issues on their minds, McCain urged the locals to stick to the candidates themselves. We can't criticize the laws he's passed, there are virtually none. We can't criticize his policy stances, they change hour to hour. In these ads, McCain uses Obama's own words and choices against him, which is not jaw-dropping chudzpah, it's Politics 101. It's just that the subject matter is so egregious and extreme, it requires an extreme response, lest the volley, like many of the campaign's early efforts at discrediting Obama, sink limply into the net.

In those 30 seconds, John McCain showed the American people that he knows what they are paying attention to, and equally importantly, that he wants to win. If he can get them to listen when he's being bombastic and over-the-top, maybe, just maybe, some of them will follow him back to RealityLand, a place Senator Obama doesn't deign to visit much. In RealityLand, the people of Berlin don't get to vote in American elections. In RealityLand, I don't expect a man going to the gym to be newsworthy. In RealityLand, journalists who get tingly feelings up their leg upon seeing one of two Presidential candidates should acknowledge their own non-objectivity and stick to reporting the weather or retire to the Hamptons.

But just as sane Obama supporters cringed when their candidate re-made the Presidential Seal, many McCain supporters will roll their eyes at the Britney-Barack montage. And I have to be honest, I have worked in marketing and I would not have advised one of my clients to run that ad from the official campaign. But as they say, nothing succeeds like success. It's clear that more people are now looking at John McCain. Only time will tell what they see.


This is my 100th post at Moms for McCain! Thank you to the over 5,000 of you who have visited and shared your thoughts. I am looking for Guest Bloggers to post while I'm on vacation and taking care of kindergarten entrance in September (hooray). If you are interested, please contact me at moms4mccain at yahoo dot com. Thanks!

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