R. Justin Shepherd | PART-TIME PUNDIT


Pumped for McCain?
5.August.2008, 1.49 pm
Filed under: politics | Tags: , ,

I’ve been heavily critical lately of the McCain campaign’s interesting decision to use sarcasm as its primary mode of offense against Obama. The “Celeb” ad, as well as “The One” (and another Web-only video, this one produced by the GOP, featuring David Hasselhoff) made McCain look juvenile, as well as a bit out of touch (are Britney and Paris, at this point, really celebrities? Or are they just laughingstocks?). This latest tack, however, uses humor the way it should be used: To poke fun at an actual aspect of the candidate’s own making.

In case you haven’t heard, Barack Obama made mention the other day of how, if everyone would just keep their tires well-inflated and their cars tuned up, we’d save just as much oil as we could gain through expanded drilling. Aside from being grossly inaccurate (but not bad car-care advice), it gave traction to an idea that McCain has to run with: That Obama’s a liberal whose opposition to anything that might hurt the environment trumps any concerns he might have for the working class. This as polling shows Obama gaining heavily amongst the white working class that he had such a hard time winning in the primaries.

But back to the tire gauge. It’s a great campaign prop: Funny, understated and which actually mocks a candidate based on his ill-conceived words, not on people’s reaction to the candidate (as with the “Celeb” ad, which by the way only reinforced that McCain is far from exciting).

Obama countered with this ad, touting a tax hike on “Big Oil” and excoriating McCain for his ties to that great villain:

Politically speaking, I think it’s great. From a pragmatic perspective, however, it’s a mixed bag. McCain IS tied to Big Oil (more on that in just a second), and so it’s good to let the American people know it. But a “windfall profits tax” on Big Oil that will be sent to consumers? That’s an idea that would be laughable if it wasn’t real… the businessowner in me knows that ANY tax is simply passed on to consumers, and Big Oil will just get it back by raising their prices to compensate. (Besides, a “windfall” is by definition a company receive shocking amounts of profit from something it had absolutely nothing to do with… if, for instance, I suddenly started selling millions of paper cups next week because someone had made them into a fashion trend, when I was only selling them for the purpose of holding tasty coffee. The price of oil, which has always fluctuated, has to do with the market and with speculation, but it’s hardly a “windfall.”)

Now for the more interesting ad, the response from McCain.

On style I’d give it an 8, but suddenly John McCain, the straight-talker himself, is talking about “Big Oil” as well? He’s going to take on this industry which has rewarded him politically? And while he’s touting his “Original Maverick” status, he might think back to his many long-held policies he’s thrown under the wheels of the Straight Talk Express (immigration reform, environmental policies, a “positive campaign”).

Oil and gas will have a major impact on this election… in fact, I honestly believe that the American people would allow the Iraq war to continue for another hundred years if it meant a buck or two less in the price of a gallon. Sad to say it, but our priorities lie on money, and nowhere else is our spending so obvious to us as at the gas pump, as we sit and watch the money fly out of our pockets with every guzzle.

Who has the right answer? That’s anyone’s guess. But it’s pandering season, and these candidates of compromise seem to agree on the new favorite subject.

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