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The Ellen Vote

Updated

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

John McCain guests on “The Ellen Show” on Thursday, less than a week after Ellen DeGeneres announced that she and partner Portia de Rossi would wed in California following the state Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage.

McCain is opposed to gay marriage — as are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — but the way he answers any questions asked about his views could be indicative of how far he is willing to press the issue in the general election. With a constitutional ban on gay marriage poised for the California ballot, it will be interesting to see if DeGeneres presses him to take a position, given that McCain opposed a nationwide constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage back in 2004. But McCain is anxious to see California in play, or at least a little bit competitive, and the ballot initiative could have the net effect of rallying the conservative base in the Golden State. So he is, as Jake Tapper of ABC News writes, walking a tightrope.

Writes Tapper, “The fact that McCain is reaching out to DeGeneres’ viewers — an act that would have been close to unthinkable during the Republican primaries — is indicative of how the conservative Republican is attempting to pivot towards the political center and reach out to independent voters and Democrats, while his would-be opponents continue to battle it out in the five remaining Democratic primaries.”

Meanwhile, the fact that DeGeneres landed McCain — only the latest presidential candidate to visit her show — speaks to the importance of her audience. Her marriage announcement could have more power in framing the issue to middle America (or inland California) than any amount of advertising or news debate. That’s why it was a bit amusing hearing marketing expert Laura Ries opine on Fox News that Ellen’s announcement was an intrusion of a talk show host’s personal life into a national program. “Talk show hosts are best when we know little about them,  when they put light on the guest and not their own issues,” she said, via Towleroad.  Her point: Johnny Carson never talked about his marriage on “The Tonight Show.” Actually, he did, in numerous jokes about paying alimony.


Views of the Candidate:
Timothy Noah of Slate wonders whether HDTV will hurt John McCain like TV hurt Richard Nixon in the famous Nixon-Kennedy debates of 1960. That’s when the cameras were unforgiving of Nixon’s 5 o’clock shadow, while JFK looked brighter and friendlier.

Noah writes, “As someone who’d pooh-poohed the age issue, I found myself gasping at McCain’s mug as transmitted in glorious HDTV. Wrinkles, blotches, liver spots, scarry tissue—none of these were hidden by McCain’s makeup. As McCain cracked wise (“What do we want in our next president? Certainly someone who is very, very, very old.”), I found myself thinking, Jeez, he doesn’t look like a guy who’ll turn 72 this August. He looks like a guy who’ll turn 82.”

All the more ironic is that McCain has been a big champion of HDTV in the Senate.

Also via Mediabistro, Gary Kamiya of Salon asks why the press is giving a pass to McCain’s association with “bat-shit holy men” but “condemns Obama to talk show hell for the same sin.”

Clinton Vs. Media II: Hillary Clinton tells the Washington Post that sexism has played a role in the campaign, including  that generated by the media. “It’s been deeply offensive to millions of women,” Clinton said. “I believe this campaign has been a groundbreaker in a lot of ways. But it certainly has been challenging given some of the attitudes in the press, and I regret that, because I think it’s been really not worthy of the seriousness of the campaign and the historical nature of the two candidacies we have here.”

“The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted, and . . . there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head,” she said. “It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments by people who are nothing but misogynists.”

Eastwood on Clinton: Clint Eastwood tells The Politico’s Jeffrey Ressner that he can’t understand why people are asking Hillary Clinton to drop out. “Everybody’s trying to talk her into folding, but it doesn’t seem like the spirit of Americana,” Eastwood said.

“Put yourself in the place of [Clinton]: You’ve gone out there and made a thousand speeches, and you’ve shaken a million hands and you’ve been out there working your ass off,” Eastwood said. “And then somebody comes up and says, ‘Why don’t you just drop out of it?’”

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