James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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McCain camp desperate, silly and sad

Posted by James McPherson on August 24, 2008

Affirming my observations of recent weeks that the John McCain campaign steadily becomes increasingly silly, increasingly desperate, and–despite recent polls–decreasingly likely to win the upcoming presidential election, the campaign is doing what it feels it must to have a prayer of victory.

Previously noted by many is how McCain now panders to the Religious Right figures whom he once termed “agents of intolerance.” At the same time that he engages in increasingly unchristian behavior, even to the point of adding to his own lies by refusing to criticize obvious lies from a man who has been one of McCain’s harshest critics. Nonetheless, his most recent ad must make “straight talk express” fans cringe when they hear the candidate intone, “I’m John McCain and I approved this message.”

This ad (the first clip below) asks why Hillary Clinton isn’t Barack Obama’s choice as running mate, and states that she was kept off the ticket “for telling the truth.” While that message might work with a few PUMAs, it seems likely that even many of them might be turned off by such blatantly pandering on the part of a man who consistently has done little on behalf of women–even if they believe that anyone in the McCain campaign knows the inner workings of their opponent’s operation.

McCain himself, it seems, once would have been embarrassed by such a commercial. Doesn’t he have some other means of attack other than to put his own face and voice in an ad that not only doesn’t say anything about himself or his candidacy but which actually promotes a losing candidate from the opposition party? Of course he obviously likes those folks, since he pals around with two-time loser Joe Lieberman. But isn’t McCain’s new language more befitting of Jon Stewart or bloggers than of a candidate for president? And does his new ad suggest that McCain like to replace sidekick Joe Lieberman with Clinton (a good idea if she’d go for it, but she’s far too smart for that).

One problem, I suppose, is that McCain has relatively few positive options because his own campaign message to voters might be boiled down to: “I was tortured before most of you were born (though if we do the same things now to scary Muslims I would no longer call it torture), I hate war but think we ought to engage in a lot more of it, I’m old, I’m cranky, and I disagree with almost everything else I said a year ago, back when I was still voting in the Senate–so elect me president before I die or before my rich wife leaves me for one of my lobbyist friends.”

Another somewhat silly McCain ad came out on the same day that Barack Obama announced what most followers had considered inevitable for days if not weeks, that Joe Biden would be the Democratic nominee for vice president. That commercial (the second clip below) shows Biden criticizing Obama and complimenting McCain. The only problem with the ad is that it merely reflects the kind of rhetoric that happens in political races all the time–in fact, the third clip below is a version that might be used against McCain if he chooses Mitt Romney to be his running mate. Biden’s rhetoric also reflects the give-and-take nature of the Senate, reflecting why I was somewhat surprised when two Senators won their party’s nominations.

Obviously a current senator will become our next president, while another will go back to serving with Clinton in the Senate. Perhaps that’s why McCain is being so complimentary to her now–he figures she can remind him where things are in the Capitol once he gets back there. 

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17 Responses to “McCain camp desperate, silly and sad”

  1. Ura said

    On the contrary, recent polls show an almost dead heat, when most would assume that given the dissatisfaction of the current administration, Obama should in fact by now have a double digit lead…..

  2. James McPherson said

    As you can see from my post of a few days ago (https://jmcpherson.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/out-on-a-limb-prediction-obama-will-win-handily/), in my view the polls are both misleading and largely meaningless, but thanks for the comment.

  3. bolsonon said

    I once read, “It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument,” so I won’t even bother to address your off-base observations and asinine assertions but I will say ‘thank you” for the amusement.

  4. James McPherson said

    You’re welcome, Bob. And though I’m sorry you didn’t see fit to include a link to your own blog (http://bolsonon.wordpress.com/), I’ll do it for you here.

    And I thank you for the amusement you have given in return, perhaps most notably with your statement of a few months back: “I have things that need to be said, for public consumption, and for the archives of mankind at his best. Never at a lack for words, or opinion, I am sometimes accused of being arrogant, conceited, or of considering myself to be superior to others.” I can’t imagine where anyone would get that idea! Thanks for reading.

  5. gyma said

    I agree that the polls are bullshit. You know the old saying, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” I put polls into that same category. Zogby wrote an interesting article after the Republican National Convention in 2004 whereby his organization showed Bush up by 2% and Newsweek had a poll showing Bush up by 11%. He explains the methodologies of both so you can see why the discrepancy.

    My tinfoil hat theory is this: #1 the moronic media wants this race to be close, #2 the media is owned by a few corporations with a vested interest in keeping Republicans in the White House, #3 this same moronic corporate media will publish all sorts of bullshit polls claiming McCain and Obama are tied, so #4 Diebold can steal the election again and the electorate will be sucked into believing the race was close and therefore it must be legit.

    I, for one, hope we riot in the streets if that happens. I’ve had enough!

  6. […] me, her selection at this point is tinged with a bit of desperation, like the timing of Barack Obama’s selection of Joe Biden (whom I also had […]

  7. […] out of a sow’s ear. But he obviously still is not very confident, since when it comes to sad and desperate negative campaigning, his campaign is going whole hog. When will the McCain folks start focusing on […]

  8. […] of the McCain campaign’s latest charges of sexisim. Of course that didn’t stop John McCain’s smear merchants from immediately launching another negative ad–complete with badly out-of-context quotes […]

  9. […] to me that McCain recognizes that the electoral tide seems to be going against him, and he is again grasping at straws. After all, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already said McCain’s presence would be […]

  10. […] Politics, Written elsewhere by James McPherson on October 7th, 2008 John McCain’s Desperation Express continues, with McCain and Sarah Palin furiously throwing mud as fast as they can, […]

  11. Jack said

    It is now October and Mc Cain and Palin are still running a desperate, silly and sad campaign. Unfortunately a hateful and disgusting one as well. The Republican Party now rivals the KKK with McCain as the Grand Wizard. I understand it is difficult for them to run a clean campaign and now are acting like sissy school girls making fun and talking ridiculous. How pathetic. Most of America feels sorry for this invalid and his silly side kick. This is not even dirty politics, they have turned it into a cesspool of cheap, childish and ridiculous shots at Obama. Obama does the best thing sticks to the issues and ignores the waste of time. Sorry old guy this is America and the WORLD is watching you.

  12. […] so disgusted with McCain’s presidential campaign, which seemed to be mostly a series of  desperate “Hail Mary” passes that sent him lurching farther and farther to the right, that frankly I recently wished […]

  13. […] into the usually sane McCain of before the most recent presidential election campaign and the crazy old man who appeared during the campaign and never went away. We now can no longer be sure how McCain feels […]

  14. […] we had John McCain–the McCain we used to remember before he sold his soul to try to win the last presidential election–chastize Michele Bachmann for her latest […]

  15. […] But it would seem to work against the candidate who has no coherent message–a candidate like John McCain in 2008, for example, or like Mitt Romney in […]

  16. […] of defeat, Romney’s choice–like McCain’s choice of Palin–smacks of desperation. Ryan obviously is a lot smarter than Palin (OK, so Romney’s dancing horse is smarter than […]

  17. […] Mitt Romney seems to be widening and Romney seems to be sinking stupidly into dishonest John McCain-style desperation, and despite the fact that I’ve been predicting an Obama victory for some time, I do […]

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