Saturday, August 02, 2008

McCain's Bad Analogies



Yesterday on On Point, in response to an assertion that Obama's statements about his appearance as compared to past Presidents was "stating the obvious" to try to defuse attacks, National Review staff writer Stephen Spruiell said (starting at 18:31),
Stating the obvious, I mean, that's just not something that McCain and Bush have been doing, have been going around and pointing out that Obama is black. I mean, that's what he said that they were doing and they're not. Now I mean as far as the veteran card as opposed to the gender card or the race card. I mean the difference would be that being a veteran is something that you can legitimately put on your résumé and say, you know, like, this is something that I've done. You know, this is something that, you know, you can judge for yourself, but maybe it qualifies me to lead the country better than sort of a one-term Senator who, you know, had some experience in state politics before.
When asked specifically about the comparison of Obama to two "blonde, flouncing white girls" could be seen as a kind of race statement "in the music if not in the words",
That's, I think that's so ludicrous. I mean, you know, clearly the ad was comparing Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and saying that he has a lot of fame, but he has not done a lot to, you know, justify that. I mean, that is, sort of, Paris Hilton is famous for being famous. I mean, what, we, you know, you can't juxtapose Obama next to any white woman without somebody like, immediately accusing whoever made the ad of racism? I mean, that's, I, that's, that's so, so paranoid as to, you know, defy belief.
This is a pretty stupid defense of the ad. Granted, the McCain campaign's official defenses are pretty stupid, also - the idea that they're comparing Obama to the world's biggest celebrities, by pulling two blonde young women out of yesterday's news. The absurd claim that they're the #2 and #3 celebrities in the world behind Obama? Pure fiction. Citing the Forbes Celebrity 100, upon which neither Spears nor Hilton appear,
Instead, the top 10, in order: Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Angelina Jolie, Beyonce Knowles, David Beckham, Johnny Depp, Jay-Z, The Police, JK Rowling, Brad Pitt.

So, they didn't pick other big celebrities, who were either men, or black, or married.

What they picked was two sexually available white women.

But it must have been a coincidence, because we know John McCain wants to run an elevated campaign focusing on the serious issues that America faces.
Okay, so the McCain camp's excuse for why it picked Spears and Hilton is a fraud. Perhaps that's why Spruiell tried to bend the excuse into something new - the idea that Obama, Spears and Hilton did nothing to deserve their celebrity. Except Spears did a lot to earn her celebrity status. In addition to being talented as a child - as a singer, gymnast and performer - and working harder during her pre-teen years than many people do during their entire lives, she actually picked up the pace during her period of fame. If McCain thinks his touring schedule is rough, perhaps he should ask Spears how many weekends she got to take off during the height of her fame.

Now if the analogy is to Spears current public image, muddied by her legal problems, drug problems, erratic behavior and mental illness? Let's say that type of judgment should hit a bit too close to home. It's not fun watching a talented person turn their life into a train wreck over drugs. Anybody who has lived through the ordeal of a loved one spiraling toward rock bottom should have empathy for somebody like Spears (and for her family) - to me, if that's the image of Spears that McCain intended to convey, it's disgusting to claim pride in exploiting her illness.

As for Paris Hilton, let's see.... Which of the candidates took middling political talent, mixed it with a strong family name and millions of dollars in inherited cash, and bought his way into status as a political celebrity? Hm... Strangely, it doesn't seem to have been Obama.

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