Friday, August 1, 2008

It's Barack, Bitch!

McCain is proud of his campaign’s new anti-Obama ad that compares the Democratic presidential candidate to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

And perhaps he has good reason.

It’s the most effective jab yet against Obama—and whether its attempt to make Obama’s almost universal popularity into an Achilles’ heel will stick in voters’ minds remains to be seen.

It’s a charge—i.e. Obama’s celebrity is proof of his shallowness—that Obama may have difficulty refuting. What’s he going to say? “I am not well liked and admired around the world”? And to affirm his obvious appeal worldwide is going to sound like arrant egotism.

When Barack responded yesterday by stating that the much-publicized ad shows that his ascent to power is different in form and content from the usual Presidential career path, the Republicans gleefully pointed out that he is playing the race card and that sudden undeserved fame has gone to his head.

Now Barack Obama has to prove his humility. Checkmate. You can’t topple the guy face on, so you force the guy into self-deprecation. Let him do the work for you.

Of course, the obvious is that there is no such thing as the race card—at least no more so than there is a POW-in-Vietnam card. Facts are facts—and to criticize Obama for ever (albeit rarely) referring to his African heritage is to push American politics even further towards the abstract, the vague, and the make-believe, right where mainstream politicians like it.

And what candidate for the US presidency has not possessed a larger than average ego? Frankly, Obama has struck me as almost Gandhi-like in his balancing of celebrity and self-effacement.

If he’s managed to get the coolest rock stars on his bandwagon, is that really worse than boasting blood ties to European royalty (true, according to, of every US President to this day) or claiming, like Bush, that God has personally appointed him to be President?

So McCain seems to have hit on something here. If Obama is too famous to be President, perhaps next it can be charged that he is also too competent, too smart, too probably effective as a world leader?


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