Friday, August 15, 2008


Greg Sargent thinks it's "bizarre" that he just received this via blast-fax from the McCain campaign:

You know you may just be a global celebrity when you get this headline in Reuters, "Obama Takes Shirt Off Again, Goes Body Surfing In Hawaii."

(That's a real headline, by the way -- yes, it actually is news when a guy takes off his shirt on a beach in Hawaii in August.)

And Steve Benen sees a desperate effort to sell a "clunker of a campaign" in this new McCain ad, which has the following script:

Celebrity? Yes. Ready to lead? No. Obama's new taxes could break your family budget. The press warns the "taxman cometh." Obama's taxes mean "higher prices at the pump." Obama's taxes a "recipe for economic disaster." Higher taxes. Higher gas prices. Economic disaster. That's the real Obama.

Maybe all this is bizarre and desperate. But it tells us exactly what we're going to hear from the McCain campaign every day until November: The McCainites plan to start with "biggest celebrity in the world" (which they clearly think is a real winner of a line, and the polls are close enough for them to believe it's not a loser) and then link every negative attack to Obama's status as a "celebrity" (and a world celebrity at that). They're going to tell us that "celebrity" is the original sin from which all other sins (any planned tax increases, his shorter resume) derive.

And if, as the rumor mill suggests, McCain makes a promise not to run for reelection, I guarantee you he's going to use the "celebrity" line in relation to that.

How? Simple: He's going to say that he -- as a great patriot whose love of country is selfless -- plans to step down after one term ... whereas Obama, the oh-so-ambitious celebrity, the guy so eager for the world's adulation, won't make the same pledge.

Am I seriously suggesting that the McCain campaign will suggest that it's now unseemly to run for president with the intention of running for reelection if you win? Yup. Am I also seriously suggesting that he'll get the pundits, and thus the public, to treat this as a legitimate argument? Well, he's a Republican -- what do you think? Of course I am.

I'm sticking with my theory that "celebrity" isn't (or isn't primarily) a euphemism for "uppity." It's about not being from Middle America, but instead being from that dangerous non-contiguous landmass that includes Europe, Hollywood, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and all high-ranked universities. "Celebrity" is the next best thing given that the GOP can't paint Obama as an awkward coastal egghead weirdo (cf. Gore, Dukakis, Kerry) -- celebrities aren't awkward, but they are weird ... at least they are to "normal" Americans, or so the McCainites hope.

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