McCain's Choice: Being Loved by the Press, or Winning

Carol Platt Liebau
|
Posted: Aug 03, 2008 12:51 PM
Well, here it comes -- the predictable denunciation of John McCain's campaign as racist for daring to make fun of Barack Obama.

Today, Bob Herbert does the honors:

Now, from the hapless but increasingly venomous McCain campaign, comes the slimy Britney Spears and Paris Hilton ad. The two highly sexualized women (both notorious for displaying themselves to the paparazzi while not wearing underwear) are shown briefly and incongruously at the beginning of a commercial critical of Mr. Obama.

In writing Prude, I had the dubious pleasure of spending a lot of time of writing and thinking about the "two highly sexualized women" Herbert refers to here.  The point about them is that they're famous -- not because of their achievements-- but mostly for being famous.  (The vehicle through which they became famous was their sex appeal, but that's not the point of the ad.)

Given the context, the display of Spears and Hilton isn't "incongruous," as Herbert claims.  It's the very point of the ad -- that, like the two of them -- Barack's experience or history of legislative accomplishments aren't the rationale for his candidacy. It's charisma that got him where he is (or, to stretch a point, what comes out of his mouth -- not singing, like Spears, but rhetoric). 

Given that the Obama family has proffered interviews to "Access Hollywood" and appears on the cover of "People" magazine, it's hard to argue that they're not courting the same kind of coverage sought by celebrities.  And check out the MSM outlets that have referred to Obama's "star power" in their coverage of him -- the list includes ABC News, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, among others.

The bottom line for McCain is this:  Either he will have to endure being called a racist by journalists like Bob Herbert, or he will need to resign himself to sitting back and politely allowing Barack Obama to win the election.  It will be interesting to see whether Obama partisans overuse accusations of racism so much that by the time the election rolls around, Americans are simply tuning the accusations out.