By Patricia Wilson-Smith
PTTMCHLICMAM? We’ll get to that in a moment.
First an acknowledgment:
It’s getting increasingly harder to write these blog entries, primarily because there’s so much to write about, it’s difficult to settle on something and just, well, write it. But this morning, the McCain campaign has bestowed upon me an incredible gift – the gift of a lifted writer’s block. Thank you, John McCain!
Okay (clear throat). So, if you’re like me, you spent some part of yesterday scratching your head, trying to understand why the McCain campaign thinks that an ad depicting Moses (played by a recently deceased and beloved actor), and showing Senator Obama in various stages of his campaign (sometimes joking, sometimes lifting audiences with one of his soaring speeches) is anything but – dumb. And offensive if you REALLY loved “The Ten Commandments”.
This new ad was just as strange and confusing as the now infamous “Britney-Paris’ ad. The truth is, it was only because I had been forewarned that the BP ad was out there that I even knew it was a McCain ad. The references to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton were strange to be sure, but the ad, like this new one, shows our favorite Senator in front of adoring crowds, and has a constant ‘Obama! Obama!’ chant in the background. If you’re watching these ads and you’re a supporter of Senator Obama’s, you won’t know whether to cheer or collapse on the floor in a fit of confusion. But I can tell you that what I was at NO time tempted to do, was doubt the importance of Senator Obama’s ability to inspire, because (and please listen closely Mr. McCain) that is what real leaders do.
I think the McCaininites have stepped in it this time. If I were writing ads for the Obama Campaign, I would be all over this like a cheap suit, because in attempting to question whether or not Senator Obama can lead, what they’ve really done is shined a light on the fact that as one who has an almost endless ability to inspire, he possesses what is considered to be one of the most important traits of a truly great leader.
That’s Management 101 people. Any random Google search of ‘What makes a great leader?’ will return a list similar to the one below:
10. Open to criticism
Let’s examine, shall we? Let’s see – John McCain is no visionary, and I think that by producing these ads his campaign has all but admitted that he’s about as inspirational as a bag of dirt. His ability to act strategically and tactically? Hmmm – he’s been in the Senate for like, a billion years, so I guess one has to assume that he has some measure of these skills. Let’s keep it movin’.
Watching him on the campaign trail, I haven’t seen much focus, and let’s face it, he is neither persuasive or likable. I’m sure he’s plenty decisive, but he’s proven in the past that ethics could be a problem for him. And finally, if you’ve seen him growl at one of his press corp reporters from time to time, you know he’s not the best at taking criticism. The evidence is overwhelming – the McCain campaign really needs to stop asking whether or not Senator Obama can lead, before someone turns the question back around on them.
This is a slippery slope for a number of reasons. The McCain campaign has to know that any line of attack that assumes that Senator Obama is all glorious speeches and no substance is a direct insult to me and people like me – and Senator Obama has said as much in his responses to these strange ads. And I feel it personally, because by throwing up the whole ‘Obama thinks he’s Moses’ thing, the McCain campaign is accusing me, and all of you, of being Pied-Piper like lemmings, with no real discernible ability to choose a candidate based on the issues, especially if he happens to be charismatic, drop dead gorgeous, and an impassioned and eloquent speaker.
Following that line of thought, there are a lot of great leaders who should have had ad campaigns levied at them chocked full of mocking references to biblical figures. Try to imagine what it would have been like if in 1980, Jimmy Carter’s campaign, desperate to stem the tide of admiration for Ronald Reagan and his good looks, articulate speeches, and Washington outsider status, had resorted to such tactics, perhaps by producing ads comparing him to Jonah, complete with a big whale that spewed peanuts, or hair gel.
The hair gel thing was a reference to Ronald Reagan’s always perfectly coiffed hair. I’ll move on.
Or if in 1960, Richard Nixon, upset by a clear upstaging from a young and attractive John F. Kennedy Jr., had somehow been able to foist ads upon us that compared him to John The Baptist – can’t you just see it? John The Baptist baptizing Uncle Sam in some lame attempt at belittling JFK?
Sounds ridiculous, I know, but no more so than the crap the McCain campaign put out this past week. Sadly, though their methods are goofy, I actually would have been disappointed if they hadn’t come back with something after having to sit through footage of Senator Obama in front of 200,000 chanting Europeans last week, all of whom seemed to be screaming, “We want you to lead the Free World, and not the old guy! We want you to lead the Free World and not the old guuuuuyyyyyy!” That would send any candidate over the edge. But it simply points out McCain’s clear disadvantage to produce these kinds of ads, and does nothing to change the inescapable fact that inspiration is what we want in our leaders. And those of us who know, know that Senator Obama is the near perfect combination of inspiration, brilliance and charisma. And more importantly than that, he knows how to inspire people to action, and then lead them when they move to act. John McCain couldn’t inspire me to even turn up the volume on one of his speeches, let alone do anything else he asked of me.
I understand this is all just politics. I do. But what I don’t get is how the McCain campaign could possibly get away with a line of attack that is first of all offensive, secondly – more than a little ridiculous, and thirdly, borderline blasphemy. Attacking Senator Obama because he’s inspirational? That’s like blasting Kobe Bryant because he’s good at popping 3-pointers.
If the McCain campaign wants to go all ‘can he lead?’ on us, then let us examine the facts, lest we forget:
Senator Obama has lead a campaign that on its own, and without special interest PAC money, has raised over $340,000,000 dollars.
Senator Obama has single-handedly awakened the American people from a long, tortuous slumber, brought on by decade after decade of exclusionary politics, and moved millions of them to get and stay involved in the political process.
Senator Obama has run an organization that at every step of the way has been professional, productive, organized, and meticulous in its dealings with his opponents, the media, and each other.
Senator Obama has consistently stayed on the defensive when it comes to negative campaigning, and has at no time resorted to the childish and misleading tactics that the McCain campaign has this week, and has been adamant about keeping his message about the issues and the needs of the American people.
Yikes – I could go on and on. But the bottom line is, I was not fooled by the McCain campaign’s attempt to lessen the importance of the man who is destined to become the next President of the United States, and I don’t think very many other people will be either. Just check out the blogs, they’re telling the story this morning. I think even McCain supporters are wincing over this one, and it’s hard to blame them. By now, they too are convinced as I am that this is ‘PTTMCHLICMAM’ – Proof-That-The-McCain-Campaign-Has-Lost-It’s-Collective-Monkey-Ass-Mind.