Have you heard about the new Obama ad... the supposed first strike in a “get tough” counteroffensive against John McCain’s steady stream of attacks?
The new ad (embedded below) tries to paint McCain as “out of touch” because he doesn’t send emails... or even know how to use a computer keyboard.
At first I thought this was a weak line of attack. It even plays into the whole “elitism” thing. Like teasing somebody for not having a plasma-screen TV or knowing how to program his cell phone.
Also, the ad can be seen as a swipe at McCain’s age (“Aww, look at Grandpa. He can’t work the remote!”), but not in any effectively damaging way.
Then I saw all the “outraged” reactions at pro-McCain blogs:
“... it turns out McCain can’t type because of the damage inflicted upon him while he was a POW.”
“John McCain, because of the torture he endured as a prisoner of war, cannot use a computer keyboard. John McCain can’t even comb his own hair.”
“McCain can’t type on keyboards. He can’t tie his shoes. He can’t comb his hair. And he can’t throw a ball. This is all thanks to those ... [who] held him captive in North Vietnam.”
Those offended souls make it sound like Obama fucked up big-time. Either Obama was ignorant about the extent of McCain’s infirmity... or he poked fun at the cripple on purpose.
“If Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin or John McCain had made such a cruel mistake, the TV news coverage would be relentless and condemning,” blogged SusanUnPC at No Quarter.
But what if it’s not a mistake? What if it is a clever jiu jitsu move?
Who benefits from an extended Web-wide discussion of John McCain’s physical incapacities – McCain or Obama? I mean, what else can’t John McCain do? Can he not use a cell phone? Can he not feed himself with a knife and fork?
Karl Rove used to say: “You don’t attack an opponent’s weakness. You attack his strength. That’s how you win.” And McCain’s strength has always been his POW status... his tragic, heroic personal story. How could one possibly turn that strength against the man?
Well, one could lie and say that McCain collaborated with his Communist captors and sold his country out... as the Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain are doing.
Or one could gin up a whispering campaign about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other lingering psychological effects of 5½ years of torture. But there’s no evidence that McCain is mentally ill.
Or one can stick with the facts as they are known: John McCain is physically disabled. He cannot comb his own hair.
And to have McCain’s own supporters reminding everybody about this... well, that’s the best part. That’s Karl Rove good. That’s Lee-Atwater- with-a-black-rapist-on-parole good.
The GOP obviously wants voters to reward John McCain for his noble suffering in Hanoi... but the GOP doesn’t want to stress McCain’s disabilities. Because that doesn’t fit our mythic ideal of Commander- in-Chief. (It still might trump “Negro,” however.)
On a subliminal level, do the American people want a president who can’t tie his own shoelaces?
Boy, I hope this controversy stays cooking until Monday. I would love to see the cable-news talk shows dwelling on McCain’s infirmities.
The Republican spin machine might’ve turned Obama’s rock-star charisma and Ivy-League smarts into negatives. Let’s see if they can hit this knuckleball.