From Time’s James Poniewozik: “In this corner, contempt for Obama’s celebrity; in that corner, contempt for McCain’s tactics. If your opponent tries to make you Britney Spears, you try to make him into the paparrazzi.”
He does bring up an interesting point about the McCain campaign’s inclusion of Britney and Paris in the ad. It was destined to get a lot of free airtime, as no news outlet could quite resist the temptation to play it and comment on its effectiveness — or lack thereof.
He also sees shades of Rove in the approach, given that he tried to turn Kerry strengths (like his Vietnam service) into weaknesses.
Poniewozik writes, “You can make Obama into to Britney Spears, or John Kerry, or Malcolm X. I’m not sure you can make him into all three at the same time. (Is there a template in American culture for an Ivy-league-snob, black-militant, out-of-control former Mouseketeer?) Sure there is some overlap between one aspect of one attack and another, but overall, it’s a scattershot way of attacking. (Compare this with the elitist-windsurfer attacks against John Kerry, which however unfair, were consistent and clearly, immediately effective.) And if you’re choosing among all the possible ways to “other” Obama, is this really the most devastating argument against an opponent: “He’s just sooooo popular! He thinks he’s all that!”
The Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown sees it working, judging by the atmosphere among journalists and even late-night comedians.
“The snickers about Obama’s perceived smugness may have a very real political impact as McCain’s camp launched its most forceful effort yet to define him negatively. It released a TV ad Wednesday describing Obama as the “biggest celebrity in the world,” comparable to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, stars who are famous for attitude rather than accomplishments.
“The harsher treatment from comedians and columnists — coupled with the shift by McCain from attacking on policy to character issues — underscores the fine line that Obama is walking between confident and cocky. Once at pains to present himself as presidential, Obama now faces criticism for doing it too well.”
Marc Ambinder asks, “Wasn’t McCain the original politician celebrity?” And a Republican strategist writes in to note that the ad violates Michael Deaver’s rule of politics: People pay more attention to the visuals, and in the spot it is Obama who is shown among adoring and American flag-waving crowds.
And here’s an excerpt from A&E’s 2005 movie based on McCain’s POW experiences in Vietnam, “Faith of My Fathers”