Thursday, July 24, 2008

The McCain Poster

Everyone's taking turns making fun of McCain's new poster, so I think I should report what I think. I think this is an example of a time when I have to choose not to be "on message" for us and say something that's calculated to whip people up to go out to vote against the Republicans, and instead play devil's advocate a little- mostly I want to do this to help people develop what I think is better judgment on things, like how to play politics better. And that's why I have to say I think the poster is not that bad. Here are comments I wrote on two other blogs (slightly edited to make them better here):

I don't think the poster is that bad for them-- its message just seems to be "Our guy knows that we have to fight to achieve peace in the long-run, and the liberals aren't willing to do that." It keeps them well-settled in their over-all frames/message, makes John McCain sound less like a war-monger without putting him in a position of having to say or promise something he's not going to actually follow up on (i.e., any kind of genuine peacenik moves like getting us out of Iraq or not leaving permanent bases), and it keeps the actual debating (but not the advertisements) in the campaign focused on things like whether or not we need to be fighting now, whether the fights the Republicans will start will make us safer, etc., instead of on some kind of precarious ideological battle between whether you like the idea of us being in wars or whether you put a premium on peace when we can have it (the poster just chooses peace, genuinely or not, as the lowest common denominator and therefore the appeal to be made). So when it comes to debates and printed material, McCain and his campaign will be free to make arguments based on uncertain, unknowable future events, and facts the average voter is ignorant about (nitty-gritty historical details and facts about Iraq policy and military policy)-- comfortable stuff for a politician trying to get elected.

The poster doesn't even have any offensive content, which is less and less common for the Republicans when they open their mouths nowadays.
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I really think the poster is fine. It's his arguments about when we should be at peace and when we should be at war I feel like challenging, not this facially benign poster. Aesthetically, it's a little too lush for what I would want, but as Kevin points out, that's probably because the poster is designed to most directly target a demographic that grew up when posters in this style were more with-it.

You can't even really call the poster corny on its own terms, I think (that is, without consideration of the fact that McCain the man is about as heroic and noble and wise as the Sheriff of Nottingham, and therefore the poster-- for portraying him as if he were otherwise-- is absurd). But as just a poster of a guy who is running for President, it seems like a perfectly fine poster to me- if you put Hillary or Edwards or Barack on it, but kept it the same otherwise, I don't see what the problem would be.