Kathleen Parker

Did McCain intend it that way? My sense is no, owing to McCain's own profoundly painful experience with a similar tactic in 2000 when his daughter was the target of an ugly racist attack. Push pollers placed calls in South Carolina saying that McCain's adopted daughter (from Bangladesh) was really his illegitimate black child.

Even if baiting racists would win him the election, it is highly doubtful McCain would allow it. But he did allow this ad, which, at the very least, showed poor judgment. A subsequent Obama-celebrity ad is missing the missies, but the damage has been done.

McCain's ad, meanwhile, was a gift to Hilton. Her video rebuttal not only is more clever than McCain's original, but she manages to mock the elder statesman. Seated on a chaise in bathing suit and gold heels, Hilton introduces herself: "Hi, I'm Paris Hilton and I'm a celebrity, too. Only I'm not from the olden days and I'm not promising change like that other guy. I'm just hot."

Because McCain put her in his ad, Hilton says she figures she must be running for president. So she presents her "hybrid" energy plan -- a combo of McCain's drilling and Obama's new technology. Something to tide us over until, you know, the problem's solved.

The unsolved problem for both McCain and Obama is they have too many people telling them what to do. Too many polls, managers and handlers later, they're losing their true selves. Both were once unique in different ways. Mavericks in their own time, they were original men who each had transcended challenging circumstances, if of different orders.

Politics has become so shallow that a poor little rich girl, America's icon of shallowness, can spoof a war hero and veteran U.S. senator and make him seem silly. Worse, Paris Hilton is back in the buzz.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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