May 18, 2008

New Adventures in Pandering

All right, last week I started McCain Watch '08, in which I point out something dumb John McCain has recently done. This week, it's ponies and sunshine week at the McCain campaign: McCain both gave a speech and ran an ad in which he essentially promised that if he becomes president, all our problems will be history in 5 years.

Here's the ad.

While my mother likes to say that you can never be too thin,1 too rich, or too cynical about the stupidity of the American electorate, I honestly think that this ad is such dramatically awful pandering that, like the gas tax, it will actually make people feel condescended to, and they will therefore lose respect for McCain. I mean come on. This is the Straight Talk Express? McCain's political identity is falling all over itself.

The only other thing I have to say about it is that McCain's plan for reaching this fantasy world is primarily composed of 'setting goals' and 'having expectations,' a strategy which Gail Collins enjoyably eviscerates, squeezing in an anecdote about Republican congressmen in mohair sweaters while she's at it. This whole goal-setting, expectations-having business has been the dead center of education reform for the last umpteen years. There's a lovely moment in a generally interesting Atlantic Monthly article about rebuilding the New Orleans schools in which a business man who has started a charter school begins, in a very small way, to see that simply demanding excellence will not deliver it. Actually, and this is one of the many sad parts in that article, perhaps he doesn't begin to see it any more than McCain can see how hollow his vision is. But to the rest of us, it's crystalline.

1. Please note: this contains irony, and does not require any sort of invective against my mother's fat phobia.

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