Campaigns/Elections

Why Can't He Be Both, Like the Late Earl Warren?

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James Poniewozik puts his finger on why the McCain movement seems so rudderless right now:

You can make Obama into Britney Spears, or John Kerry, or Malcolm X. I'm not sure you can make him into all three at the same time. (Is there a template in American culture for an Ivy-league-snob, black-militant, out-of-control former Mouseketeer?)

You actually can cross John Kerry with Britney Spears. Unfortunately for McCain, the result is John F. Kennedy.

Update: On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine someone who is simultaneously (a) vacuous and (b) an intellectual, with (c) a touch of radical chic. Hell, I knew people just like that in college. And I wouldn't want any of them to be president. Maybe Poniewozik has inadvertently identified a winning strategy.

NEXT: Charlie Lynch Update

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  1. Jesse,

    Great title. I chuckled.

  2. Oh, now who’s being naive?

  3. Meanwhile, McCain is being no one but Grandpa Angrypants. Not Grandpa crossed with Ronald Reagan. Not Grandpa crossed with Bob Dole. Not Grandpa crossed with Fifty Cent. Just Grandpa. Get the fuck off his lawn, America.

    From his most recent ad:
    Barack Obama is a celebrity. He’s popular. People like him. He can do anything he wants. This cannot be allowed. Vote McCain, because your best years are behind you, too.

  4. I’ll be dead and buried in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missouri!

    Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.
    P.S. I am not a crackpot

    The last time the meteors came, we thought the sky was on fire. Naturally, we blamed the Irish. We hanged more ‘n a few.

    I didn’t earn it, I don’t need it, but if they miss one payment, I’ll raise hell!

    Ah , there’s an interesting story behind this nickle. In 1957 I remember it was, I got up in the moring and made myself a piece of toast. I set the toaster to three, medium brown.

    The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets forty rods to the hogshead and that’s the way I likes it.

  5. JFK was a Mouseketeer? Huh, you learn something new every day.

  6. Unfortunately for McCain, the result is John F. Kennedy

    McCain needs to sleep with Marilyn Monroe, stat!
    Aren’t they about the same age and state of decrepitude?

  7. I’ve been searching for that Bloom County Sunday strip which was an ad for Bill for President. It describes him as things like “a handicapped lesbian construction worker of color” (I can’t remember the exact wording) and a bunch of other completely ridiculous mashups. Very funny but I just can’t find an image.

    “Bill for President: This time, why not the worst?”

  8. “a handicapped lesbian construction worker of color”

    At the time, that cartoon was satire. Now it’s reality.

  9. You can make Obama into Britney Spears, or John Kerry, or Malcolm X. I’m not sure you can make him into all three at the same time.

    You left out Karl Marx; the guy Obama calls his mentor was a car-carrying Communist and Obama will certainly be castigated for his tax-and-spend policies.

    Anyways, Obama certainly seems to be trying to be all those at once. One minute he’s all “hope and change” and “this is the moment,” the next he’s accusing his opponents of being racists. Addressing cheering Germans and getting standing ovations from journalists helps too.

  10. card-carrying, as far as I know only the Man of Socialist Steel himself could actually carry a car.

  11. You can make Obama into Britney Spears, or John Kerry, or Malcolm X. I’m not sure you can make him into all three at the same time.

    Barack Obama is one of those elitist, innner-city black guys.

    Barack Obama refuses to change his position on Iraq, while flip-flopping on Iraq.

    Barack Obama says nothing of substance to indicate his policy positions, while pushing a far-left political agenda.

    Barack Obama has a relentlessly negative, pessimistic vision of hope and positive change.

    Barack Obama is enjoying fawning media coverage of a trip overseas that was a great strategic blunder for him to undertake.

    Barack Obama will surrender to terrorists, while not really supporting a withdrawal from Iraq.

    Barack Obama has achieved iconic celebrity status, demonstrating how alien he considered by most Americans.

  12. The sound of the voice-over lady in the McCain ad makes me want to go out and kill.

  13. a?poph?a?sis [uh-pof-uh-sis]
    -noun Rhetoric.
    denial of one’s intention to speak of a subject that is at the same time named or insinuated, as “I shall not mention Caesar’s avarice, nor his cunning, nor his morality.”

  14. If McCain keeps flailing like he is now, he’ll never be president.

    At this rate, the best he can hope for is judge at a Mr. Tight Buns contest.

  15. He’s got that Elmer Fudd things going on.

    Ooooooooooo! Dat wascally wabbit got away again!

  16. denial of one’s intention to speak of a subject that is at the same time named or insinuated, as “I shall not mention Caesar’s avarice, nor his cunning, nor his morality.

    A common rhetorical device of both parties, e.g. “as the post-racial candidate, I am the first black man to etc.” and “we think its awful that the race card is being played by that black man.”

    Seriously, does it ever work?

  17. Obama is indeed a complex and contradictory figure. He’s a self-identified black guy who chose to immerse himself in inner city black culture, though by blood he’s half-white and was raised entirely by the white side of his family. For starters.

    But I guess most people want to reduce him to one simple thing and approve or disapprove of him on that basis.

  18. I like the sound of this. Lets try it for the sake of science.

  19. RC,

    If someone was the “peace” candidate, would that mean he’s not supposed to talk about war?

    If someone is the free-market candidate, does that mean he isnt supposed to talk about regulation and taxes?

    Being the “post-racial” candidate doesn’t mean he’s not supposed to talk about race. It means he’s supposed to talk about it differently.

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