Commentary Magazine


McCain Takes on Obama

John McCain has stayed out of the nasty back-and-forth between Obama and Hillary, and he’s been wise to do so. But his new ad, which his campaign is calling his first general election ad, is clearly working off of all the material that the two Democrats have provided during the course of their spats. The message is entirely directed toward Obama. If everyone else is still toying with the idea of Hillary’s triumphant superdelegate finale, no one’s been told at McCain headquarters. They’ve got another target in mind.

In the ad, there’s plenty of neutral footage showing McCain looking TV-Presidential, while the voiceover establishes the theme:

What must a president believe about us? About America?

Thanks to Jeremiah Wright and Michelle Obama. McCain will be able to stay on this point for as long as he wishes.

That she is worth protecting?
That liberty is priceless?
Our people, honorable?
Our future, prosperous, remarkable and free?
And, what must we believe about that president?
What does he think?
Where has he been?
Has he walked the walk?

Then comes the footage of McCain as a POW, giving his rank and serial number. The announcer breaks in with a direct rebuke to Barack Obama.

The American president Americans have been waiting for.

While the ad is, in its way, an attack ad, it offers everything the Democrats have failed to in their campaign: clarity, simplicity, focus, and indisputable evidence (POW footage) of a real record. With the Obama hysteria having been exposed for what it is (to a degree), it’s hard to imagine what kind of second wave the Illinois senator will be able to marshal against this McCain attack.