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John McCain’s A-minus Campaign

There are some really good films which get everything right, but have one major flaw (or maybe a few such flaws).  These flicks, I call, “A-minus movies.”

In my book, the classic such movie is Woman of the Year with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.  It gets everything right, down to the casting of the secondary (and even tertiary) characters.  But, at the end, Hepburn, trying to make breakfast to pacify her then-estranged beloved, shows she’s all thumbs in the kitchen.  It’s actually a funny scene, but just doesn’t fit the tone of the movie, especially not at its climax.

In a similar vein, while some might find the McCain’s recent web commercial on the lipstick hullabaloo humorous, it was entirely inappropriate.  The campaign shouldn’t touch such issues, letting the media and friendly bloggers make an issue of them.  The attention paid to that ad seems to have prevented a much better McCain ad on the intensity of Democratic efforts to smear Governor Palin from getting the notice it deserved. 

The media focused more on the lipstick ad because it fit the daily news narrative. Even Charles Krauthammer thought it was a “cheap shot.”

That’s been one major flaw in an otherwise excellent campaign–well, at least since Steve Schmidt took over this summer.

Another mistake the campaign made was not to make Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin available to the press until this week.  It lead to increased speculation that while she could give a great speech, she wasn’t up to the rigors of a presidential campaign.  And it brought more focus onto her first such interview.  Just like that speech, that interview, broadcast this week, got a lot more attention than other such interviews normally get.

And while she seems to have acquitted herself quite well, the increased focus has made it easier for the media to exaggerate her mistakes, minor though they were.

Let’s hope the McCain team learns from its mistakes.  While it’s had a good two weeks, the media are clearly not on John McCain’s side.  And as we’ve seen today, they will magnify minor mistakes–or even he appearance of such errors.  In a close race, that could make all the difference.



  1. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign reaches a new low: They are seriously – seriously – attacking McCain for his war injuries!

    You know – the Viet Cong tortures that have left McCain man unable to comb his own hair or tie his own shoes, to this day. Those same injuries also make him unable to use a computer keyboard comfortably. So, he has his wife and aides help him deal with e-mail. And what’s the content of the Obama ad? Seriously trying to attack him because he’s unable to do his own email!

    Obama: SCUZBALL!

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 12, 2008 @ 9:55 pm - September 12, 2008

  2. “Can’t send an e-mail”, they tsk tsk… even emphasizing it with screen text!

    Man, how LOW can Obama go? Seems like every 2-3 days, I’m stunned again. The guy belongs in junior high – as a student!

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 12, 2008 @ 10:18 pm - September 12, 2008

  3. ILC, the worst thing the SnObama campaign has done is impugn McCain’s patriotism and honor.

    They’re toast.

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — September 12, 2008 @ 10:18 pm - September 12, 2008

  4. Jonah wonders how the Obama camp can criticize McCain for his supposed lack of email use when they can’t even use Google to research their smear.

    I still hope the GOP response to this stuff is minimal. It stinks now – by election day, it will be putrid beyond description. The Dems have been taken over by the angry deranged left. People who are now beginning to pay attention will be shocked.

    Comment by SoCalRobert — September 12, 2008 @ 10:37 pm - September 12, 2008

  5. SCR, I agree. Obama has reached a low where he reeks on his own, McPalin don’t need to point it out anymore. They should focus on their positive message of reform, fiscal conservatism – and drill, baby, drill!

    Peter – how is it going? Keep us posted.

    One more thought on Obama – hey Barry, way to insult older generations, who also have trouble with e-mail for different reasons! I mean, now that you’ve done women and all! Let’s see, what other groups of VOTERS, whose VOTES you need, can you and your gang of 6th-graders try to insult?

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 12, 2008 @ 10:51 pm - September 12, 2008

  6. Exactly ILC he’s pushing women to the Republicans, seniors to the Republicans, more veterans to the Republicans. Is it possible there are Clintonites in his midst, sabatoging his campaign? It seems most of these wounds are self inflicted. Mark Penn, Clintons former pollster came out today blasting the BHO strategy. How does a leftist candidate with 85% of the media on his side implode like this. Sarah is a superstar and has put a hex on them. The Obama Wright Biden ticket was not ready for prime time.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — September 12, 2008 @ 11:04 pm - September 12, 2008

  7. I forgot the handicapped, Biden insulted that wheel chair bound handicapped man the other day. (Stand up, Stand up) They are pushing the handicapped to the Republicans.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — September 12, 2008 @ 11:05 pm - September 12, 2008

  8. the worst thing the SnObama campaign has done is impugn McCain’s patriotism

    Pete, fair enough. Because they did that too. Jennifer Rubin has the best comment IMHO:

    “So, when American workers hear John McCain talking about putting ‘Country First,’” Obama said, “it’s fair to ask –- which country?” [thus genuinely questioning McCain’s patriotism]

    On a day in which they both questioned a war hero’s patriotism and mocked his lack of physical dexterity, it is clear to the non-Kool Aid drinkers that the Obama camp jumped the shark into netroot land… is it any wonder that Independent voters are fleeing to McCain?

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 13, 2008 @ 2:10 am - September 13, 2008

  9. P.S. Slight apology here for the high emotion level in my first comment. I shouldn’t be surprised by anything Obama does – but I was. Compounding that surprise, I was surprised that I could still be surprised. I had thought I was more cynical than that.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 13, 2008 @ 11:27 am - September 13, 2008

  10. For what it’s worth, GPW, Hepburn herself insisted that that final scene be included in “Woman of the Year”. She felt that her films until then had never given audiences a character to which they could warm up. Men thought her too independent and masculine, and women felt she was too perfect and not vulnerable enough. She credits this scene for finally presenting to the audience a persona that was more human.

    (I got that from the Dick Cavett interview with Hepburn that was recently showed on Turner Classic).

    Comment by Draybee — September 14, 2008 @ 3:25 pm - September 14, 2008

  11. kinda scary when rove and o’reilly criticize mccain’s integrity.

    Comment by michael — September 14, 2008 @ 4:14 pm - September 14, 2008

  12. They do, Michael, how? Where?

    Draybee, I didn’t know that. Thanks for the information. She furthered her career at the cost of a movie’s “perfection.”

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — September 14, 2008 @ 4:32 pm - September 14, 2008

  13. Change you can trust, a slogan that could turn around McCain’s campaign?

    Change you can trust contrasts beautifully with change you can believe in.

    Everyone wants change, only with a team that we can trust to implement it.
    If you’re in a tough spot, you want someone to come to help you that you can trust, not someone you believe may want to help you.

    John McCain, polls show, is rated as highly qualified and highly trusted. This slogan, change you can trust, reinforces this message.

    It can even be added on to John McCain’s current slogan. Country first, change you can trust. Or perhaps Change you can trust that puts Country first. Or how about Change you can trust that puts America first

    It implies without directly saying it that the other side is perhaps a little less trustworthy.

    It also reinforces the message that in a time we were facing battle with Al Qaeda worldwide and two conventional wars, John McCain is a commander in chief you can trust to lead us to victory.

    There are 30 days left before Election Day. Sarah Palin’s debate performance was good, but it’s really up to John McCain to win.





    John, are you listening???

    Comment by Charles — October 4, 2008 @ 5:26 pm - October 4, 2008

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