Apparently John McCain believes the presidential election will come down to which candidate is the bigger (or lesser) celebrity:

Here's proof, if proof were needed, that the McCain campaign's advertising strategy is in fact being run by a crack team of six-year-olds, out of their minds on Sunny Delight. Yesterday they released a new ad, Fan Club, which continued to mock Barack Obama as a celebrity, this time on account of his "dreamy eyes". It included a brief clip of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in Wayne's World ("We're not worthy!") -- but Myers objected, claiming copyright violation, and the ad was reissued without the clip.

Doesn't the McCain campaign realize that voters love celebrities? How else to explain the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger in California or Jessie Ventura in Minnesota? If McCain had ideas that were worth listening to, perhaps he wouldn't have to spend his time mocking his opponent's popularity.

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    McCain is utterly empty (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Dadler on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:38:05 AM EST
    Should be obvious by now.  The only marginally beneficial thing he has ever done, in fact the only LIBERAL thing he's ever done, is push hard to normalize relations with Vietnam.  How in any rational world this can be squared with his continuing nonsense about isolating and boycotting Cuba, I have no idea, except to say that you can see some pretty clear psychological twisting in it.  That is, a guy who, at his core, is one messed up guy in the head.  And it seeps into his politics all over the place.

    McCain is a malevolent, addled mess without half an ounce of imagination.  Nothing but a thug.

    Any Hillary supporter who swings a vote to him, any Democrat who has problems with Obama and does, should not just have their heads examined, they should have they heads replaced.

    Obama ain't no savior, but McCain is a certified and proven destroyer.

    You are missing the point (5.00 / 3) (#74)
    by Valhalla on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:31:24 PM EST
    First, the primaries are over.  This is the GE.  The bulk of voters don't give a hoot that McCain isn't liberal.

    But more importantly, the election has moved past what is true/not true into the realm of purely dueling frames and ads.

    It may be hugely frustrating, and we can all bemoan the lack of substance, but Obama played off the same substanceless framing during the primaries, so there's no one here that gets to sit justly on their high horse, not at this point.

    I keep expecting the Obama campaign to wake up and start the real fight, but it hasn't happened yet. .  Time's growing short.


    raving is admitting you have no argument (none / 0) (#72)
    by Ford Prefect on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:19:30 PM EST
    McCain is no saint and not anywhere near that. No politician I know of (Clintons included) is in it, purely to "serve" anything, before they server their own careers. In fact Obama is a prime example of that. That said, if you really wanted to demonstrate that McCain is "messed up in the head" or "thug" or "without half an ounce of imagination" you could have made your case with some supporting evidence. It is clear you dont have any abilitiy to do that other than just mindless ranting.

    Better yet, if you want the Hillary supporters to vote for Obama, shouldnt you actually be making a case FOR Obama as opposed to AGAINST McCain? Isnt that what hope, change and new politics is all about? I thought Obama looked down upon tearing down the opponents (he doesnt do it of course, he just wants his opponents to do it). Didnt you get the Memo?

     Shouldnt you or other obama supporters define what Obama can be for the good of this nation, based on what he has been in the past? For example you could show some evidence that a)Obama actually demonstrated leadership in his past jobs like HLR, chicago law firm, IL senate or US senate and b) Obama has demonstrated the imagination and deep understanding of the instituions he occupied, making significant contributions as s result c) evidence of actually paying attention to and taking an interest in his current job instead of always looking for a new job without accomplishing or even attempting anything in the current job

    I will be holding my breath in anticipation of you doing all of that. NOT!!!1


    The new season of 24 (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by byteb on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:42:30 AM EST
    is starting in November. I wonder if McCain will make another cameo appearance?

    He is running a standard right wing strategy (5.00 / 6) (#6)
    by dianem on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:46:47 AM EST
    Standard competition dictates that you attack your opponents weaknesses. Rove's strategy dictates that you attack their strengths. Once you have turned their biggest strength into a negative, or at least a neutral, then you can work on tearing them down completely. Obama's biggest strength is his sheer popularity. Yes, people love celebrities, and when they see tens of thousands of cheering fans they tend to assume that there is something to cheer about. This bolsters Obama's credibility. McCain's strategists realize that they have to burst this bubble - they have to convince people that Obama's popularity is a negative, that there is not "there" there. This series of ads is really brilliant, actually, from a strategy standpoint.  Minimal cost, maximum impact, and great timing.

    Axelrod may know that. Hillary's (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by hairspray on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:43:43 AM EST
    strengths were her strong ties to the AA community and her experience.  Both of these issues were dealt with, often quite dishonestly.  But the O campaign did it effectively and I would be surprised if they didn't use it against McCain once the nomination is truly secured.

    This is very possibly true (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Valhalla on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:49:38 AM EST
    but Axelrod does not seem to have found his footing with regard to McCain and the Republicans.

    I think they may have tried to use the attack the strength tactic with Wes Clark going at McCain's service record, but it didn't get them any traction poll-wise, and then Obama weakened the strategy by rejecting Clark's efforts.


    Every time they've tried it... (5.00 / 5) (#60)
    by dianem on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:20:29 PM EST
    The right has fought back immediately. They are pro's at this tactic, and McCain has been the victim of pretty much every attack possible on his long and highly challenged trip toward the nomination. He has chinks in his armour, but they are not secrets. He knows what they are, and he can pretty easily plan a strategy to respond to the kinds of attacks that have come so far.

    For example, he knew that his age would be a factor, so he took a trip a few years ago, hiking with his sons across the Grand Canyon, rim to rim. That's seriously impressive for a person of any age, and really challenges the "McCain is not physically fit enough to be President". He challenges the "McCain is not mentally fit" accusations by holding lots of town halls where people ask him questions and he answers them with plentiful facts. Even if he gets a few facts wrong, people see that he is "a man of substance and learning" who is still sharp. His temper is legendary, but has been controlled.  He's doing very well, actually.

    The big test will be the debates. If Obama can match McCain's knowledge at the debates, or, better, if he can make McCain look out of control or confused, then he will win the election. If McCain nails the debates and Obama performs the way he did in the primary debates, then McCain will have a significant leg up and might even win. Obama has to show that he is knowledgeable enough to be President, in spite of his inexperience.


    Hillary proved to be such a formidable (5.00 / 3) (#62)
    by JavaCityPal on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:21:06 PM EST
    opponent, they had to keep their eye on the primary all the way to the end. In hindsight, the cries for her to drop out are showing themselves to be a plea to give them the time they needed to develop a strategy against the Republicans, not to gain unity. They clearly aren't running on a planned strategy right now. That could explain the vacation timing. Get Obama out of the limelight so they aren't doing damage control instead of strategic planning.

    It will be hard to use the same strategy (none / 0) (#58)
    by dianem on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:12:28 PM EST
    First of all, black voter's are not one of the Republican party's major assets. Second, race-baiting charges have a lot of advantages when the baitee's are highly sensitive to racial issues and are likely to vote against any candidate who is perceived to be unfairly using race, but it doesn't work as well against people who are less sensitive to racial issues. Third, it's hard to use the same technique twice in a row. People saw the Clinton's being tarred as supporter's of racially divisive strategies. If Obama's campaign tries to do the same thing with the right, then they can simply bring up the primary to show a pattern - as they already have, quite effectively.

    The strategy now seems to be to try to use Obama's astonishingly high support among blacks to pick up a few southern states with high black populations. It's marginally possible, but unlikely, that he could register enough minority voter's and get them to the polls on election day to make the difference in some states.


    It is not the same in the GE (none / 0) (#94)
    by bridget on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:59:35 AM EST
    McCain won't let Obama get away with it

    Hillary didn't fight back

    she should have, hard, but she decided not to do it IMO because of the media attitude towards her. Both Hillary and Bill should have gone all out against Obama when they were accused by him, his campaign an d his surrogates of racism. McCain will, too.


    But, also (5.00 / 3) (#54)
    by cmugirl on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:00:40 PM EST
    people like to see celebrities crash and burn when they get too big for their britches and don't have the resume to be considered such a big celebrity.

    Negative Ads Are Effective (5.00 / 8) (#10)
    by flashman on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:48:58 AM EST
    And as discussed in politico, his ads have so far had all the elements of a effective negative ad campaign.  The ads do several things at once; they hit Obama on his strengths, they are humerous, and they leave the viewer with a lasting negative impression of his opponent.  And, sadly, responding by charging racism, as many in the Obama camp and many supporters in the media are doing, is not going to work this time, IMO.  It's time to jettison that strategy and find a more effective way of countering.

    Negative campaigning is tried and true.  It's used because it works.  Obama is running in danger of allowing McCain to define him in the minds of voters.  He needs a better counter strategy, and fast.

    They are overdoing this (none / 0) (#19)
    by BernieO on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:57:28 AM EST
    I think it will backfire if they keep it up. One ad is effective but if you keep up the silliness you look vapid yourself.

    I'm Not So Sure (5.00 / 4) (#23)
    by flashman on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:05:03 AM EST
    People overwhelming vote on character, not issues.  Remember too, the people running this campaign are the same people who got an incumbent reelected while his approval was under 50%.  Don't take them lightly.

    And the beer thing (none / 0) (#31)
    by BarnBabe on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:16:37 AM EST
    Every time Matthews or other 'newsperson' mentioned about Bush was voted to be the one people would most want to have a beer with, it made Kerry look more elite and no personality. Wine only. Add the Swiftboating and people thought Kerry was exagerating his service in Viet Nam.

    I think we will see this kind of ad (5.00 / 5) (#26)
    by samanthasmom on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:06:59 AM EST
    until after the convention. I think the Republicans are trying to burst the bubble from the football stadium coronation before it happens. To make Obama look shallow for delivering his speech in front of throngs of supporters phone banking from the bleachers. If they can succeed at doing that, I think we'll see a different strategy after. I do, however, expect to continue to see humor in McCain's ads. Since Obama appears to be humorless, it is an effective tool against him.

    It is a confusing strategy (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by eric on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:50:19 AM EST
    And from this Minnesotan, I can tell you that it is more than "people" liking celebrities, although that is a lot of it.  The true reason that celebrities get a leg up, at least from our experience here with Ventura, is that the MEDIA love celebrities.

    This is because it seems that those people that cover the news and politics don't really seem to like politics much.  Either they don't get it or they don't like it.  The truth is that people who work in much of the media have degrees in communications or some such.  They are NOT politicos.  When a celebrity gets involved in politics, they love it.  It makes it more approachable for them.  Hence, lots of favorable coverage for the celebrity.  Here in MN, there were rumors that Ventura was going to try to run for Senate this year, and you wouldn't believe the coverage.  Massive.  Over a rumor that didn't even come to fruition.

    In sum, I would say that Obama, because his celebrity comes from politics, doesn't really qualify as a celebrity in the same way as a movie star or pro wrestler.  He may not get the same treatment from the media as if he had been an actor.  But your point is valid, criticizing Obama for is celebrity is ridiculous as the evidence shows that plenty of people voted for two steroid enhanced actors for governor for no good reason other than they were famous.

    Ventura was elected on policy. (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:50:47 AM EST
    Sure, his celebrity status helped, but it would not have been enough without his stated opposition to the Drug War, embraced by both opponents.

    Also, ANYONE who meets the entry qualifications (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by Ellie on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 02:30:15 PM EST
    ... should qualify to RUN for office, regardless of how s/he made her living, whether it's as a screen actor or one who acts in the wrestling arena. ;-)

    It shouldn't be a closed shop.

    The difference is in meriting the office.

    Simply giving good speeches or running a 'brilliant' campaign (which have been mentioned as Obama's top credentials for shoving aside the more qualified caDem in experience and policy) is far beneath that standard.

    That's how I view the Paris/ Obama ticket.


    This ad is similar to the others (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by smott on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:02:44 AM EST
    ....basically calling Obama a lightweight. ANd his supporters even lighter, vacuous, clueless groupies.

    ANglachel dead-on here, and HT to Somerby who nails it too, re the Hilton ad. It's all connected.


    Americans love to see celebrities fall down (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by OxyCon on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:08:59 AM EST
    ...the harder the better. That's why when you go grocery shopping, all you see are celebrity scandal rags.
    What the Repubs are doing is attacking Obama's feet of clay. They are setting Obama up now for when they knock him down hard come October.

    I think the ads are brilliant (5.00 / 8) (#33)
    by davnee on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:22:11 AM EST
    Now they run the risk of overdoing it, so I'm not sure there should be more, but the ads are funny and unexpected, and represent a really fresh way to go negative.  And they sure as heck make the point that Obama is an empty suit for an empty generation.  Cue Obama Girl.  I think you have to look at the ads from the perspective of the intended audience - people who want to know who the heck this guy from out of nowhere is and why the heck people seem to want him to be president so desperately when he hasn't apparently ever done anything in his life.  

    If you are predisposed to think this guy is an empty suit, and perhaps more importantly, if you are predisposed to think the Obamaniacs out there are vain and spoiled and foolish whippersnappers who are more interested in saving the world via their iphone than by working a hard day in their life, then these ads are probably going to strike a chord with you.  And having all the latte types out there getting the vapors over these ads only reinforces the point.  I really think these ads are going negative as much on effete young liberals (and more subtly blacks) as they are on Obama.  McCain is reminding red meat voters out there that they don't want to be associated with or agreeing with those people on who should be president.

    I think Obama needs to demonstrate that he is a man of substance and gravitas.  That's the only way to combat these ads.  

    But...Can he? (5.00 / 4) (#50)
    by hairspray on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:48:25 AM EST
    The Spiro Agnew approach ... (none / 0) (#38)
    by TChris on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:28:29 AM EST
    attacking liberals as effete snobs, didn't do much to improve Spiro Agnew's popularity.

    See Gore2000 and Kerry2004 (5.00 / 5) (#40)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:32:17 AM EST
    The Elite Liberal Snob is a perennial GOP frame because it works.

    We'll see it this election, too.


    It also has a kernel of truth to it (5.00 / 3) (#75)
    by Valhalla on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:38:10 PM EST
    reinforced by big enough chunks of Dem supporters that the Republicans can continue to play on it productively.

    Much of the reaction to Bittergate on the Dem's side went something like this:  Well, they ARE just bitter, gun-toting, religious freaks, Obama just made a mistake in saying so out loud.

    I saw a TON of that.  And even when Clinton won Ohio, HuffPo was flooded, and I do mean flooded, with comments about how she only won because Ohioans are all redneck idiots who are descended from too many generations of people marrying their cousins.

    Dems have just never caught on to the fact that no one likes to be condescended to.  Even stupid people don't like to be told they are stupid.

    Even all the touting of registering new voters essentially says to all those old voters: we don't value you.


    It got Nixon elected twice. (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by tree on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:06:54 PM EST
    Obama (5.00 / 5) (#35)
    by Bluesage on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:22:53 AM EST
    And his supporters have made it pretty easy to paint him as a celebrity or snake-oil saleman.  He did not do well in the debates and I remember the one when Hillary stated that she didn't mind always getting the first question and was happy to answer it and she was vilified for that.  It made perfect sense to me and knew right away what she was saying.  She gets the question and gives the answer and Obama does a version of "me too".  I've not seen a lot of there there.  Many people are having second thoughts about Obama and I believe that some buyer's remorse is setting in.  Maybe the McCain ads have had more effect than we realize.  Maybe it's this VP game he's playing or maybe he really is as vapid as he appears.

    That is a matter of perception (5.00 / 3) (#42)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:33:35 AM EST
    I thought he did very well in the debates, so did many people.  I thought Hillary did well in the debates so did many people.  In fact most people were pretty happy with both these candidates.

    But the Obama campaign didn't think so. (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by tree on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:09:37 PM EST
    Or else they wouldn't have declared "no more debates", and they wouldn't have been avoiding debates with McCain these past few weeks. If they thought that Obama did well in these debate venues they would be pushing for more of them, not avoiding them.

    There are three presidential debates scheduled. (5.00 / 4) (#59)
    by TChris on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:19:11 PM EST
    That's not exactly "avoiding debates."

    Yeah, ... right... (5.00 / 4) (#65)
    by tree on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:32:38 PM EST
    His campaign declared no more debates with Hillary after the ABC debate where he finally had to answer the same hard questions that Clinton had to face all season long. He claimed a the time that he would rather debate McCain.  Then when McCain offered to debate he found all sorts of reasons not to debate.

    Obama's only agreed to the minimum three debates that always occur each election year. He's agreed to the same number of debates that Bush, the avid and skillful debater<snark>, agreed to in 2000 and 2004. Whoopee! Obama can't realistically avoid those three without major negative fallout, but he's avoiding every other opportunity to debate.  

    If his campaign thought debates were a positive for him he would be itching for every opportunity he could find to debate McCain. He isn't. They don't see it as a strength.


    But (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by cmugirl on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:46:30 PM EST
    Obama did say he would meet John McCain in some town hall-style meetings before and after the conventions and then backed away.

    Obama is like Bush in that regard - he only wants to speak before friendly audiences that have been hand-picked.  Dissent is not allowed.


    Are you saying that (none / 0) (#83)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 03:06:30 PM EST
    McCain' campaign style is more honest?

    This has nothing to do with weaknesses, it has to do with running with your strengths.


    No (none / 0) (#87)
    by cmugirl on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 03:58:43 PM EST
    It was in response to the previous comment where it was said that Obama doesn't run away from debates because he's agreed to the three with McCain after the conventions.  My response was that he has backed away from statements where he said he WOULD meet McCain in town hall style forums, so yes, it DOES appear that unless he has a script and a friendly audience, Obama is not willing to meet his competitor head on.

    I disagree. (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by TChris on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:39:46 PM EST
    Since Obama is meeting John McCain in front of a neutral audience for three unscripted debates, I cannot agree that he is unwilling to meet McCain head on.  If the Obama campaign prefers the traditional debate format to McCain's proposal, too bad for McCain.

    Campaign Strategy (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by indy in sc on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:29:40 PM EST
    McCain couldn't buy media coverage this summer until he injected Paris Hilton in an ad.  Why would Obama agree to give him free coverage by appearing in numerous debates?  Only candidates who are behind and/or don't have a lot of cash to spend want debates.  This is not new.

    I understand this is the (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by tree on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:45:38 PM EST
    "conventional wisdom" that is trotted out, usually by candidates that are in the lead but not really good at debating, but it really doesn't apply here. Number one, Obama's lead is not that great, and in some instances and some states he is trailing, and trailing badly in a few he may need to win.

     Two, the Obama campaign has used the RNC overwhelming money advantage to excuse his refusal to agree to public financing, so they are trying to have it both ways.  Debates would be giving both candidates free time and the Obama campaign is always saying that America needs to get to know Obama better. What better way than a debate on the issues, assuming that you think your candidate has a strength in debating? Its very apparent that the Obama campaign doesn't think of debating as an Obama strength.


    Respectfully (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:54:15 PM EST
    I think the common wisdom holds here.  I think Obama is pretty good in a debate.  And McCain is no Hillary (I think we can all agree on this :).  Though I have never seen McCain debate someone 1:1, in the Republican debates earlier he wasn't good and in his "town hall" events he isn't very good.  However, if Obama debates him he gives him air time and he allows conservative pundants (regardless of how terrible he is- think first Kerry Bush debate) to say how amazing he looked.  Better to stay away from that.

    And I respectfully disagree. (5.00 / 2) (#71)
    by tree on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:13:00 PM EST
    Obama's been a media darling all along. I'm sure that Matthews et al will get that tingle going again.

     I have no doubt that you and others may think that he does well in debates, and it may even be objectively true, but I think its very obvious from what his campaign strategy has been that his campaign doesn't see debating as a strength of his. His campaign has not been hesitant to rely, and in some cases, over-rely, on his perceived strengths, thus his speech in Berlin, and his scheduled speech before 75,000 n Invesco Stadium. If they thought that debating was one of Obama's strengths, they would be promoting more debates. They aren't. Now, if you were on the campaign staff, maybe they would. But his campaign so far gives every indication that they don't think its a strength of his. If the Clinton campaign was in the Obama campaign's situation right now, we'd already have had a few debates, or  else Clinton would be riding McCain for not agreeing to any. The difference is that the Clinton campaign always rightly saw debating as a strength of hers.


    With the exception of the last debate (5.00 / 4) (#61)
    by hairspray on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:21:03 PM EST
    Hillary was always first and her answers were either attacked or acquired.  People who liked Obama to begin with probably didn't notice this or the fact the moderaters usually challenged her more pointedly than the other men on the dais.  The October 2007 debate with moderators Tim Russert and Brian Williams are held out as a stunning example of what I just wrote.

    The primary pointed out (5.00 / 5) (#44)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:35:50 AM EST
    the gaps in Obama's armor.  It's not the GOP's fault that Obama hasn't fixed his problems.  I always thought that Hillary's strong finish showed that people preferred a candidate who could address their issues in meaningful ways instead of lofty rhetoric.

    Well, that's what I saw.  Not sure what the Obama campaign learned from that phenomena.


    Well, if his post-primary (5.00 / 3) (#48)
    by dk on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:43:05 AM EST
    campaign thus far is any indication, it looks like team Obama is going to use the same strategy in the GE.  I.e. promise everyone everyting but say nothing of substance (except for attacking the left now and then), and hope to ride out his structural advantages to the finish line.

    Of course, this spells disaster for his actual ability to govern (all those people he promised things to are going to expect something in return, so he will by definition disappoint everyone, and his middle-of-the road positions won't be supported by anyone).  But such is life for the next few years, I guess.


    My husband who has degrees (5.00 / 2) (#63)
    by hairspray on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:26:30 PM EST
    from two of the best universities in the country and is one smart cookie says this of Obama: whom he intends to vote for by the way, "Obama wants to be an overseer and developer of the big picture, a hands off person.  That doesn't work if you haven't done the grunt work."  This from a man in business for many, many years and an adjunct professor in a school of business.

    remind you of anyone? (5.00 / 3) (#69)
    by Ford Prefect on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:58:59 PM EST
    This is so true, you cant just be a guy who listens to your advisors and their wisdom in order to manage a large enterprise much less a country, if you, yourself hadnt spent time understanding in depth the complexities and issues in managing that enterprise. If you dont have that understanding all you can do is depend on other cabinet members and advisors (with varying agenda) to tell you what to do. In addition even if you do have that understanding, you need to have demonstrated leadership (in some form, somewhere) for a) you to actually lead a large enterprise b) for others in the organization to believe and accept you as a leader

    Barack has demonstrated zero leadership or in depth understanding of any organization he was ever part of. His record thus far indicates that he likes giving speeches and grandeur more than hard work on anything.

    But havent we had a president in the last 8 years who wanted to be the CEO or overseer who leaves the details to his advisors/cabinet? Shouldnt we learn from it? Now latter is a question that has always puzzled me about our voting population. We never really learn until a major disaster strikes and then again we dont learn the full lesson from it. But such is democracy. Cant complain


    Well,we can complain. (none / 0) (#73)
    by tree on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:25:51 PM EST
    Its still a democracy after all. Its just that the complaining doesn't ever seem to help rectify things. Sadly.

    BTW, love your nom-de-post.

    My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre and that I am therefore excused from saving universes.

    you are right (none / 0) (#91)
    by Ford Prefect on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 06:35:10 PM EST
    I guess we should complain. But if it is about "we the people" and the way we elect leaders/presidents, who should that go to? I dont know. reminds me of a seinfeld episode. :-)

    Thanks. I like most of the characters in that book. That is a funny line you quote, as are many in this book. :-). I like the answer deep thoght comes up with, for the ultimate question too.


    arnold and jesse (4.75 / 4) (#5)
    by sancho on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:44:14 AM EST
    were cartoon manly men (anti-intellectual in affect) and also not democrats. they were the anti-celebrity to the kind of celebrity being attributed to Barack Obama.

    So true. (5.00 / 5) (#15)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:53:12 AM EST
    Those two made political hay out of their fictional personas.  When people identify strongly with a persona, even a fictional one, they often can't shake the association.

    That's what framing is all about.  Create a frame and get the public to associate it with the candidate - for good or ill.

    The only defense against negative framing is strong positive framing.  When McCain mocks Obama's celebrity, the wrong response is "McCain's just jealous!" because you've admitted the validity of the frame.

    Don't accept bad framing.  Ever.

    Obama's winning response is to show there is real substance to him, that the reasons people are attracted to him have more to do with his strong stand on issues that mean a lot to them.  


    If only it was true (5.00 / 3) (#51)
    by angie on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:49:37 AM EST
    You are 100% correct about this:
    Obama's winning response is to show there is real substance to him, that the reasons people are attracted to him have more to do with his strong stand on issues that mean a lot to them.  

    Unfortunately, the main reason Obama seems to give as to why people should vote for him is because he "isn't the other guy/gal." That was his message during the primary & that is his message now, as seen in his "counter-punch" McCain "Washington's biggest celebrity" ad. Furthermore, it opens the gate for McCain to bring up Obama's vote on the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill. If Obama has ever shown that he has taken any "strong stands on issues" that mean a lot to his supporters or Dems in general (FISA comes to mind), I haven't seen it.

    I agree completely (none / 0) (#43)
    by Claw on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:33:46 AM EST
    Don't accept bad framing EVER.  I think Obama's ad calling McCain "the biggest Washington celebrity," who's pushing the same old policies was a great counterpunch.
    "Washington Celebrity" = Not only Washington insider, but also hits back against celebrity.
    Same Old Washington policies is a theme Obama should hit over and over.  And, to his credit, he has.
    Commenters downthread have mentioned that we don't want to get into an argument about who's the biggest celebrity.  Completely true.  We don't.  But Obama has been airing policy ads (the new energy for the future thing is really good) in addition to one very nice smack down of what most people seem to think is a pretty dumb line of attack from the McCain camp.  He's going to have to do a lot better if he's going to breathe life into the GOP brand.

    I disagree (5.00 / 6) (#55)
    by cmugirl on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:03:35 PM EST
    I think Obama's ad calling McCain "the biggest Washington celebrity," who's pushing the same old policies was a great counterpunch.

    I thought it was lame.  It reminded me of a schoolyard fight where one kid gets a great smackdown and the other kid yells "Are Not!" and stomps his feet.


    It was for the base (5.00 / 4) (#66)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:41:37 PM EST
    They won't say it openly, of course, but clearly that ad was created to please the base, the people who are like "Yeah!  Hit him back harder!"  At least I hope they didn't kid themselves into thinking that any undecided voters would respond favorably to that kind of ad.

    Much of their strategy seems to be playing to (5.00 / 2) (#76)
    by Valhalla on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:46:07 PM EST
    the base.  (the new, reduced base, that is).  It is a one-note strategy that may still work, but it's all the eggs in one basket.  

    It may work if Obama can hang onto his small lead in the polls, independents remain split 50/50, and the very high number of undecideds decide not to vote at all or not cut to McCain.  But the more 'ifs' that get added to the equation, the more precarious the basic assumption -- he can win with the support he has, without expanding his base of support -- becomes.


    I think (none / 0) (#78)
    by Claw on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:53:44 PM EST
    The more he can pound on the washington insider theme, the better.  I think Washington celebrity is even better because, while Americans like celebs, they don't much care for Washington celebs.  

    Huh? (5.00 / 3) (#82)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 02:54:44 PM EST
    What is a "Washington celebrity"?  A politician who is famous?  I mean, look, that's Barack Obama.

    I don't understand why, just because the Republicans are desperate and want to make this thing a reference on Obama's personality or lifestyle or whatever, we think the winning response is to make the election a referendum on McCain's personality.  I mean, the American people are rejecting the Republicans because they don't like their policies, not because they don't like their personalities.  Let's capitalize on that.


    No no (none / 0) (#93)
    by Claw on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:15:10 AM EST
    Obama's a celebrity like Paris and Britney.  Remember?  The more Obama can talk about how long McCain's been in Washington (turning strength to weakness)...how he's a Washington celebrity, the better.  Plus the ad Obama uses is called "The Hug."  10 points if you can guess who they show McCain hugging.  Obama is more sensation than celebrity.  He certainly hasn't been in Washington very long.  Plus, with the phrase "Washington celebrity," the Obama campaign is offering the media an easily repeatable, catchy phrase.  The best thing that could happen is Wolf Blitzer staring into the camera and asking "Is McCain a Washington celebrity?  Our panel debates."  It's like a giant free commercial and it's what the republicans have been doing very, very successfully for a long time.

    voters love celebrities... (none / 0) (#2)
    by desertswine on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:41:57 AM EST
    How else to explain the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger in California or Jessie Ventura in Minnesota?

    Not to mention Clint Eastwood, Ronald Reagan, and Al Franken (futuristically speaking).

    That ad was idiotic but I think that is how they view the American electorate (as a bunch of stupid middle-schoolers).

    Aren't we? (none / 0) (#11)
    by samanthasmom on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:50:13 AM EST
    If That Were True (none / 0) (#17)
    by flashman on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:54:21 AM EST
    We've have senators George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Governor Lynn Swan.

    Isn't Clooney (none / 0) (#25)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:06:09 AM EST
    advising Obama on Middle East?  

    Could be worse... (5.00 / 2) (#70)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:05:27 PM EST
    he could have Dick Cheney or one of his neo-con cronies advising him.

    Quite frankly, I prefer Clooney...he has shown no indication of getting a hard on at the thought of bombing brown people....I can't say the same for Dick.


    After Reading Your Comment (none / 0) (#36)
    by flashman on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:24:23 AM EST
    I stumbled across this.  This doesn't look too good, IMO.

    Oh dear, and I just assumed that.... (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Maria Garcia on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:26:18 AM EST
    ...it was snark.

    oh well then, McCain's next ad (none / 0) (#46)
    by TimNCGuy on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:39:50 AM EST
    should highlight this fact that Clooney will be replacing Condi in an Obama adminstration.

    Now all he needs (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by Grace on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:37:20 AM EST
    is Tom Cruise to advise him on psychology.  

    I don't know (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by eric on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:42:26 AM EST
    Clooney seemed to be pretty knowledgeable in Syriana.

    LOL! (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by hairspray on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:52:13 AM EST
    Not true. (none / 0) (#92)
    by indy in sc on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 07:22:53 PM EST
    Consider the source.  Anyway, Clooney denies it pretty strongly.

    Obama needs to come back with an (none / 0) (#3)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:41:59 AM EST
    Add that talks about McCain being Jealous.  He needs to show a picture or some angle of a picture with an empty looking room.  For better or worse, American's hate a jealous person.

    Obama needs an ad... (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by dianem on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:48:29 AM EST
    ...that shows that he is not just a celebrity, but a serious candidate. Ideally, he should be able to put out an ad showing all of his qualifications for the office. He has a real challenge ahead of him.

    The last thing we need to do (5.00 / 6) (#9)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:48:30 AM EST
    is get bogged down in an argument about who is the bigger celebrity, whether celebrities are well-liked, whether McCain is just jealous, etc.  No one is going to vote for Obama because he administered a smackdown on the celebrity issue.

    Everyone thinks the lesson of the 2004 campaign is that you can't afford to ignore any attacks.  Somehow that lesson got translated into "we must now prove that Obama is not the biggest celebrity in the world," or something.  We don't have to ignore it, but we certainly can just laugh it off and pivot to what the voters really want to hear, rather than try to conduct an equally vacuous campaign of our own.


    I agree 100% (none / 0) (#16)
    by indy in sc on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:53:43 AM EST
    The best reaction the Obama camp had to the celebrity ads was to say that there were more important issues than Paris Hilton and Britney Spears and that the American people deserve better.  That should be the mode of response--not comparisons of relative celebrity (though McCain's cameo in Wedding Crashers is something campaign surrogates should mention every now and again for laughs).  

    The real comparison the camp should be making is "I'm speaking to your issues and he's speaking about Paris Hilton because he has no answer for your issues."


    hunh (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by sleepingdogs on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:58:52 AM EST
    there [are] more important issues than Paris Hilton and Britney Spears and that the American people deserve better

    I thought that was the entire point of the McCain ad.  Weird, isn't it?


    My point (none / 0) (#22)
    by indy in sc on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:03:30 AM EST
    is that the way to turn the "celebrity" ads around on McCain is to show the substance that the ad claims Obama lacks and point out that McCain isn't showing any of that substance himself by using those ads instead of trying to make McCain out to be a bigger celebrity than Obama, which just validates McCain's line of attack.

    Tit for tat is no answer. (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:12:50 AM EST
    If the question that the ad raises is "Is there more to Obama than celebrity?" and you don't answer that question satisfactorily, then that meme gains traction.  If you answer it with essentially "Well, McCain lacks substance!" with a big ol' implied "Too!", then you haven't neutralized the meme.  

    Is there more to Obama than celebrity?  

    Answer the implied question!  Say "Yes!  Obama appeals to people because he has real plans to address their concerns." and provide proof.

    This is a job interview, not a playground fight.  Voters are not going to be impressed by how well you insult your opponent.  


    We're saying the same thing. (none / 0) (#32)
    by indy in sc on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:16:50 AM EST
    I said:

    ...the way to turn the "celebrity" ads around on McCain is to show the substance that the ad claims Obama lacks and point out that McCain isn't showing any of that substance himself

    The only thing different from your point, is that I don't think Obama should stop at showing the substance--he should also point out that there is no "there" there with McCain, which is why he is resorting to Paris Hilton ads.


    That would be fine (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by dk on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:15:14 AM EST
    if Obama showed any genuine concern for any issue other than bringing (Christian) "faith" front and center into government.  So far, I haven't seen much on anything else (other than torpedoing health care reform through republican framing).

    I give the best advice I have. (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:22:28 AM EST
    Even if I have little faith that it will be taken.

    I think I read Glenn Greenwald talk about the GOP framing strategy about three times.  His point is that they are very predictable and very effective.  There are two reasons why they are very effective.  The first reason is because the Democrats respond poorly.  The second reason is because the media tends to pick up on the GOP memes.

    There's only so much to be done about the media, but the Dems can become much better at not falling into the same bloody traps time after time.  Going on the offensive is NOT the same as reacting predictably when the GOP pushes Dem buttons.  


    This would be a negative add (none / 0) (#24)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:05:53 AM EST
    The point is not to create a reason to vote for him, the point is to create a reason to not vote for the other guy.  I think the proper response to the bizarre celebrity adds, that obviously gets huge amounts of play is to say, "Damn straight people love me, but no one loves you."  It goes at McCain's percieved strong character, which is essentially what he is running on, and makes him look small for hating on someone elses popularity.

    This is a job for surrogates. (none / 0) (#28)
    by indy in sc on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:11:53 AM EST
    That kind of response would be good, but not for the campaign itself to make.  Someone like Biden who made the famous "noun, verb 9/11" comment about Giuliani, could be useful here.  He could say something like, I know that we are more used to people overseas burning american flags rather than waiving them, but trust me--it's a good thing.

    Good point (none / 0) (#39)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:29:32 AM EST
    Guess they should green light those 527s (sorta kidding)

    I know that (none / 0) (#7)
    by indy in sc on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:48:07 AM EST
    McCain is trying the tactic of taking an opponent's strength and making it a weakness, but there is something very misguided about reinforcing Obama's popularity.  The images at the beginning of McCain's ads with the Obama chants all show Obama in a positive light.

    Not to all of us. (5.00 / 12) (#14)
    by samanthasmom on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:53:06 AM EST
    Some people find huge crowds chanting in unison and making the same gesture kind of scary. It plays into the cult aspect of his campaign.

    That might have been another message (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by BarnBabe on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 11:32:33 AM EST
    In the "the One ad" it showed him with his hand out to the crowd and I believe the image was to insinuate the resemblence to another person who held his hand out during speeches to a shouting crowd over 60 years ago. I believe that image was intentional

    BTW, I don't think the stadium acceptance speech is such a good idea IMO. For any candidate. But we will soon find out.


    yes, if you know history, and have ever seen (5.00 / 3) (#79)
    by Valhalla on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:55:50 PM EST
    the crowds cheering deleriously for Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, or have the images of Jim Jones's People's Temple services in your knowledge repetoire, those images are more creepy than appealing.  For many people, screaming crowds do not connote rock-star popularity, but leaders with frightening control leading to inhumanity on a mass scale.

    Even in the U.S., crowds turn to mobs quite easily.  If your decisionmaking turns on how popular a person or idea is, then great chanting crowds would be appealing.  But I'm pretty sure Obama has already captured most of the popularity-factor electorate already.

    If your decisionmaking axis is something else, though, the ads really bring home the scarier aspects of popularity.


    I agree (none / 0) (#88)
    by nemo52 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:29:01 PM EST
    that visuals of chanting, screaming mobs could backfire.

    Positive and what else? (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:56:08 AM EST
    So sure, the opening shots are positive and then it goes downhill from there.

    The question is "Obama is wildly popular, but why?".  The ad doesn't actually answer that question, but leaves it hanging.


    Also, being one from accomplishment vs. empty Fame (none / 0) (#80)
    by Ellie on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 02:19:23 PM EST
    There's also a difference -- even among celeb hounds -- between having earned recognition through past work, and just being famous for being famous.

    Paris Hilton's an empty celeb. Obama a cleverly marketed phenom whose fame isn't matched by experience or accomplishment.

    I haven't seen anything in his character, '08 behavior or innate talent that would compel me to overlook his lack of credentials. (It's the opposite, actually: the closer I look, the more bullsh!t coated empty posturing I see.)

    Any-Pesterbot Innoculant: Note that a few short months ago, either Sens Clinto or Obama would have been fine with me. HRC earned my vote, and Club O's intent to roll back further hard earned progress in a variety of areas just to ride this Unity Pony to the right makes me vigorously opposed to Obama.

    Paris is actually (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 03:44:27 PM EST
    a clever woman a la Madonna.  She's managed to to cobble together some kind of career based in part on the public's fascination with her.  I don't particularly approve of her career track, but there's some kind of recursive logic to Paris cashing in on her celebrity.

    (Madonna?  Mediocre talent, exceptional marketing savvy.  Her success may have made Ms. Spears musical career possible.)


    McCain has hit a chord (none / 0) (#84)
    by FemB4dem on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 03:32:55 PM EST
    with this celebrities meme.  Why?  Because Obama is the most unqualified nominee in modern history.  It wouldn't work if he were an "earned" celebrity, like Michael Phelps; it works precisely because he is not.  Obama has done nothing and as more and more people pay attention to that, and as the Georgia crisis progresses and other matters on the world stage continue to occur, Obama will look worse and worse.  (What was he thinking calling for a UN Security Council resolution against Russia?  Anyone over 10 should know Russia is a permanent member with a veto, why didn't he?) And McCain will look better and better to the voters in middle America, who always decide presidential elections in the end.

    Unfair (none / 0) (#86)
    by TChris on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 03:46:40 PM EST
    Passing a resolution and forcing Russia to veto it is a reasonable proposal. There is no reason to think Obama is unaware of Russia's position on the Security Council.  It's unfair to accuse Obama of ignorance simply because he advocates a course of action with which you disagree.

    Then he should have explained (none / 0) (#90)
    by FemB4dem on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 05:11:35 PM EST
    his strategy.  You're right, I disagree if that's the WORM, but at least it's a defensible strategy.  Looking like a newbie is not defensible, particularly on foreign policy against McCain.