Utne Blogs > Politics

McCain: My Race-Baiting, Fear-Mongering Ads Aren’t Negative, They’re Funny

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: politics, election 2008, cultural criticism, negative campaign ads, John McCain, race-baiting, fear-mongering, Barack Obama, National Public Radio, Time, Left Behind,

McCain's AttackIn an interview with NPR this morning, John McCain brushed off the idea that his campaign has gone negative. What about those ads? You know, like the one comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton? Or the “Hot Chicks Dig Obama” spot that took a tip from the white fear–mongering ad that helped sink Harold Ford’s senate bid in Tennessee? Or, as Amy Sullivan dissects for Time, “The One” medley that adeptly mines Evangelical Left Behind lingo to paint Obama as the Antichrist?

C’mon, they’re funny not negative, says li’l ol’ McCain. “I strongly recommend,” said McCain, “that people who don’t find humor in that relax, turn off the computer, and go [out] and get some fresh air.”

It’s impressive to see how McCain—whose presidential aspirations (not to mention his family’s reputation) were once pulverized by the slime of the Rove machine—has so thoroughly adopted the tactics (and staff) of his onetime foe.

A note of empirical sanity: The University of Wisconsin Advertising Project, an independent and highly regarded tracker of campaign advertising, found that one in three of McCain’s and the Republican National Committee’s ads were negative, while nine out of ten of Obama’s were positive.