A man, they say, can be judged by his friends. If that's the case, then Barack Obama can surely be judged by George Clooney. The UK Daily Mail reported this week that the "Ocean's Eleven" actor regularly speaks with and text messages the presumptive Democratic nominee, advising him on everything from fashion to foreign policy. "George has been giving him advice on things such as presentation, public speaking and body language and he also emails him constantly about policy, especially the Middle East," stated a Democratic Party insider. "George is pushing him to be more 'balanced' on issues such as U.S. relations with Israel. George is pro-Palestinian. And he is also urging Barack to withdraw unconditionally from Iraq if he wins."
In my last book, "Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House," I highlighted perhaps the chief deciding factor for voters in presidential elections: suits versus boots. I explained that Americans always prefer the cowboy candidate -- the boots candidate -- to the glitzy, arrogant urban type -- the suits candidate. Americans like tough guys. We don't like candidates who consult with actors on foreign policy.
Americans prefer boots to suits for one simple reason: Americans prefer action to rhetoric. Arrogant bombast -- the traditional preserve of the big city lawyers -- is not our style. We like determined policy-making. We like candidates who take no crap rather than candidates who spout bull-crap.
If the McCain campaign can highlight the fact that Barack Obama is the suit-iest man ever to run for president, Obama will lose the 2008 election. And it will not be close.
When John Kerry ran for president in 2004, I thought he was the biggest suit the nation had ever seen on the presidential stage. Barack Obama surpasses him exponentially. Obama is a former law professor and "community organizer" (i.e., a rabble-rousing grievance-monger). Obama thrills to the cheers of Berliners but shuns visiting wounded troops if he cannot be accompanied by campaign staff and cameras. He hangs out with terrorists-cum-professors, racial radicals-cum-pastors and actors-cum-politicians, but he demeans rural voters as simpletons who "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." He recommends that hard-working Americans fight high gas prices with tire gauges, but complains about the price of arugula. He proclaims himself "a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions," creates his own presidential seal and labels his chair on his campaign airplane "President," but says that America is no longer "what it could be, what it once was."
John McCain, by contrast, is a boots candidate in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt. He spent over five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, refusing a ticket home if it meant leaving his men behind. He has a long tradition of voting the way he believes, even if it means ticking off his own base. He hails from Arizona, owns a ranch and doesn't look uncomfortable donning a Stetson.
The biggest contrast between the suity Obama and the booty McCain isn't image, though -- it's substance. When the chips are down, Obama plays rhetorical games. McCain shoots from the hip, and he shoots straight.
Last week, in the mold of Hitler's Czechoslovakian annexation, Vladimir Putin claimed that a breakaway province of Georgia required Russian protection. He then sent Russian troops into Georgia in an attempt to take control of Georgian oil pipelines.
Barack Obama responded by recommending a UN Security Council resolution condemning Russian aggression, as well insertion of a UN peacekeeping force -- a ridiculous suggestion, considering that Russia has a permanent seat on the Security Council and can veto any such resolution. His campaign stated, in Neville Chamberlain-esque fashion, that the situation in Georgia is "both sides' fault -- both have been somewhat provocative with each other." Obama called for restraint from both sides.
McCain, by contrast, demonstrated the moral clarity of the maverick. Russia, he said, needed to immediately withdraw from Georgia. Georgia, he said, should be admitted to NATO forthwith, which would force NATO to intervene in order to maintain Georgia's borders. "Today," McCain said, "we are all Georgians."
There is a reason Americans prefer boots to suits. We don't want George Clooney advising on foreign policy. We don't want a president who sees every international conflict as an exercise in moral equivalence. We don't believe in politicians who see talk as the be-all, end-all.
We do want a president who will stand up to the Hitlers, the Stalins and yes, the Putins. We want a president who understands that talk is cheap and action is valuable. We want a boots president. John McCain will be that president.