Everyone seems to agree that John McCain’s campaign ads are embarrassing and excruciating to watch. Kaus noted the similarity to Bloomberg’s “can’t we all just get along?” bipartisanship spiel, and I was reminded immediately of every column ever written by David Broder, but let’s hang on a second. How is it that when Obama says equally vapid things like “we are not as divided as our politics suggests,” he is praised as a demigod and his words become the lyrics to a treacly, saccharine anthem for hipsters, but stupid McCain ads rattling on (and on and on) about the same theme are regarded as insipid and condescending? Granted, Obama delivers the line with more flair, and the awful announcer in most of the ads sounds like the narrator from a PBS documentary on marsupial grooming habits, but doesn’t it tell us something about the inherent emptiness of the unity talk that both Obama and McCain engage in that we can’t listen to it at length for more than a couple minutes without wanting to throw our computer/TV out the window?
P.S. Contrary to the developing conventional wisdom, I think the
Noah Daniels Powers Boothe-narrated ad was infinitely better than the others that they have rolled out recently, which tells you something about how bad the others are. The slogan about “the American President Americans have been waiting for” sounds stupid; it is stupid. But this is why it works much better than lame civics lectures about mutual respect or boring re-tellings of McCain’s inspiring English teacher. It makes an incredibly simplistic point in a short amount of time. (The bit in the English teacher ad about McCain counseling forgiveness for a honour code violator is like one of these stories panegyrists tell about the youthful exploits of emperors; it’s as if Washington used the myth about the cherry tree during an election campaign and actually expected people to believe it.)