Monday, December 08, 2008


I'm too much of a cyber-klutz to embed it, so you'll have to go here to watch The Ad That Would Have Changed Everything If Only That McCain Guy Weren't So Gosh-Darn Principled:*

Even as his campaign fell far behind in the polls, Sen. John McCain refused to authorize the use of a fully-produced 30-second television commercial that criticized Barack Obama for his relationship with the controversial pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

A copy of the spot, obtained by ABC News, indicates the campaign spent the time and money necessary to produce a polished final tape, even after McCain publicly said the pastor should not be made a campaign issue and that he wanted to run a "respectful" campaign. His aides told ABC News that McCain simply decided "he did not want to touch" the Rev. Wright issue....

"McCain never saw the ad and it was never considered for air, period," said McCain's top campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. Schmidt told ABC News he recalls seeing the commercial but did not push McCain to approve it....


NARRATOR: Long before anyone knew who John McCain or Barack Obama were, one chose to honor his fellow soldiers by refusing to walk out of a prisoner of war camp. The other chose not to even walk out of a church where a pastor was spewing hatred.

REV. WRIGHT: Not God bless America! God damn America!

NARRATOR: Character matters, especially when no one's looking.

That was going to work? These were the most picked-over aspects of the candidates' biographies -- why would one more rehash of the overplayed Wright soundbite, contrasted with McCain's guilt-trip POW status, move the needle in any way?

I actually think the tag line at the end, with its moralizing-second-grade-teacher tone, makes this more resistible than the two Wright ads that aired in swing states late in the campaign. There's something about being lectured on John McCain's virtues that grates -- the ad tells us he's a better person than Obama, but it's hard not to hear this as "He's better than you."

I also wonder if George W. Bush, by using flight-suit military posturing to sell a cruel, dishonest, unnecessary war, simply destroyed any possibility that a Republican in 2008 could invoke military service to make himself seem noble and honorable.

Mark Corallo, a GOP consulted quoted in the ABC story, says something absurd:

"As the Rev. Wright controversy developed, had they used an ad like that and then built on it and done more ads and developed more information, forced the media for instance to ask more questions about Barack Obama's association with the Rev. Wright and others, it would have had an impact."

How many more questions would have been asked? Weren't they all asked and answered? What Republicans wanted was a different set of answers, and that's something they weren't going to get.

This ad would have just been more of the same noise we were subject to all year. It wouldn't have made a difference. But releasing it now lets McCain claim nobility. I wonder if the release is his doing or that of his courtier/worshipers, who seem unable to live in a world in which he isn't exalted every day above mere mortal men.


UPDATE: It's here, starting at about 1:14 of this clip (via Patrick Appel):

This would have accomplished nothing. But if the McCainiacs want to bask in a belief in their own moral superiority, and if they want to proclaim that Obama won only because they let him, well, it's a harmless enough brand of self-delusion.

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