Monday, August 04, 2008

"The One" McCain Ad

This ad is making the Web rounds. It doesn't have the tag, "I'm John McCain and I approved this message" but one commentator said that the requirement was only for broadcast advertisements, not for the Internet. I don't know. In any case, it comes very close to showing how twisted the Republican campaign seems to have become.

The "celebrity" ad got a lot of free play because it hit most polite people as goofy or irrelevant. Nevertheless, those of us from the South could see and hear the dog-whistle racism loud and clear, but few have dared say so. Certainly the Obama camp can't breathe a word about that lest they be once again characterized as playing the race card... what was that line... "from the bottom of the deck"?

I love Lindsay's take on this ad:

The take home message is a little incongruous: Barack Obama is the confident, vital, handsome, and universally beloved candidate. Therefore, vote for John McCain.


Sara Robinson's comments on this ad are concise and damning to those who put it together.

This new ad is aimed at undercutting Obama's biggest political asset -- his ability to speak in prophetic language that moves people to re-connect with their values and imagine a new kind of future based upon them. I've written before about the essential role this kind of visionary language plays in creating the cultural conditions that can open the way to transformational change. All of our greatest presidents have sung to us in similar chords and tropes when they needed to lead the country through our times of greatest danger. They apprehended that the first job of a crisis-era leader is to unify the nation by reminding us of our strengths, calming our fears, and keeping us focused on our common destiny.

The conservatives understand this power all too well: they entrusted this same role of articulating morals and visions to the religious right (with the express goal of destroying rather than fostering national unity) at the start of their own revolution in the 1970s. This ad reveals their undiluted terror in the face of Obama's undeniable rhetorical strengths, and tries to downplay them in the hope that appealing to our cynicism will help McCain. On one level, it's a frank admission that McCain is incapable of speaking to Americans in this language. To my mind, that also makes it an admission that he simply doesn't have one of the most critical skills a leader will need to have to deal with the serious pile of problems confronting us.

On another level, this ad is a heavy-handed attempt to get secular Americans to dismiss Obama's oratorical style as the ravings of an egomaniacal cult leader. The Cult of Obama meme has been floating around for months already. But with this ad, they're making a blatant accusation that he's a dangerous demagogue who's poisoning the minds of our innocent children.

On a third level, this ad is a dog whistle blaring at air-raid volume to the religious right -- a group that's still not particularly thrilled with McCain. His campaign has apparently decided that since the Ancient Warrior is decidedly unlikely to win this critical faction over with the sheer force of his charismatic personality or his undeniable moral righteousness, they're going to have to resort to the conservative movement's Perpetual Plan B: Scare the devil out of them.

One Dave Johnson went mining the fertile McCain support soil and panned through the slime, coming up with these gems:

Our buddy Dave, a man of great intestinal fortitude, waded out into the right-wing blogs and collected a few specimens of the net.slime that's already been raising the question of Obama's links to Satan. One choice bit:
Obama is the Anti-Christ. This is the evidence:

1.- He will come as a man of Peace (Obama promises peace in Iraq, defeat for the US)
2.- He will come mounted on a white Female horse(Obama mother is white who had 6 African husbands)
3.- He will come to deceive( Obama says he's a Christian but in fact he was born a Muslim, practices the Islamic religion, prays Friday’s facing Mecca)
4.- He will make himself the most powerful man on earth, if elected
5.- He will try to destroy the Jewish People and Israel( Obama has said he loves the Arabs specially the Palestinians, hates Israel and Jews. Admires Hitler, Osama etc)
6.- He will present himself as good and righteous but in fact he's Satan himself. Violence is in his heart
7.- Obama will help Al Qaida in its evil projects.
8.- Barack Hussein Obama is the “King of the South” predicted in the Bible.(Daniel .11, Kenya is south of Jerusalem)
9.- Obama comes to implant muslim Sharia Law upon America.
Obama is the Anti-Christ, beware of him.
Watch him and don't let you be deceived by Him.
Supporters of Obama: 1.5 billion Muslims, Oprah, Louis Farrakanh, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and all American Muslims.
Dave notes that everybody from Hal Lindsey to Glenn Beck has piled onto this, giving the an absurd level of media legitimacy to a story that should never, in any sane country, ever have risen to the level of a talking point in a presidential campaign. The only bright spot here is that the people most likely to believe this were never going to vote for Obama anyway due the race thing -- though I suppose the fact that they'd rather cop to believing in the Rapture fable than admit they won't vote for a black man does say something interesting about where our taboo lines fall these days.

I'm reminded of Freddy's line to Eliza in My Fair Lady: It's the new small talk. You do it so awfully well.

You'll notice I put this last quote in red.
Huh? Why, you ask?
Oh, no particular reason. I just thought it looked better like that.

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