Thursday, August 07, 2008

McCain: The grandpa who undermines your parents

The King of Old Media, Barack Obama, must be puzzled over how old man John McCain is lately the King of YouTube:

Paris Hilton may think John McCain is just a “wrinkly white-haired guy,” but the Republican presidential candidate apparently has figured out the younger generation just fine. Over the past two weeks, his “celebrity” attacks have stomped Democratic presidential opponent Sen. Barack Obama in YouTube hits.

Mr. McCain has pumped out a series of brutal yet entertaining attack ads and Web videos mocking the press and Mr. Obama, and the combination of wit and insult has pushed his YouTube channel to the sixth most watched on the site this week. Mr. McCain has beat Mr. Obama's channel for seven straight days and 11 of the past 14 days, in a signal he intends to compete for the YouTube vote.
--“McCain takes lead on YouTube hits”, Washington Times, August 7

Now, just maybe, to some young people, McCain reminds them not of their hovering, boomer parents (like the Obamas with their over-scheduled daughters), but their grandparents.

McCain kind of reminds me of Cotton Hill, Hank Hill’s father on “King of the Hill.” Cotton slaps his much-younger second wife on the butt in public; he shouts at diner waitresses: “Hey missy! How ‘bout some sammidges?!” and talks about how he killed “fiddy Japs” in WWII, where he also lost his shins. He doesn't make Hank's son, Bobby Hill (whose life ambition is to be a prop comic, not a quarterback), feel like he is an ongoing disappointment.

Yes, he’s stubborn as a mule, and sometimes he’s an embarrassment. He addresses Peggy Hill to her face as “Hank’s wife.” But Cotton Hill is real. He doesn’t give a s*** what people think – the root of all genuine cool – and that makes him oddly compelling. Maybe that’s what McCain has tapped into.

McCain is the grandfather who lets you ride sans seatbelt and will lend you his car without your parents knowing. He shows you the war memorabilia that he isn’t officially supposed to have. He gives you cash on the sly (real cash, not $5 cheques on your birthday, like the writers on “Saturday Night Live” think). He lets you drink a beer at his house. He takes you hunting and teaches you how to shoot.

McCain wasn't the goody two-shoes who soared above his family's origins and has been running for president since the age of 25, like Obama. McCain was the screw-up of the McCain clan of naval officers, who finished at the bottom of his class at Annapolis. Come to think of it, he's kind of the black sheep of the Republican party, too.

And now, as if following some kind of TV script, along comes dad to kill the party:

Mr. Obama's campaign has studiously avoided talking about Mr. McCain's celebrity attacks, instead responding to the substance of the attacks included in most ads.

But Mr. Obama himself couldn't resist, telling voters last week that the Spears-Hilton references were demeaning to the election.

“Given the seriousness of the issues, you’d think we could have a serious debate,” he said in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “But so far, all we’ve been hearing about is Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. I mean, I do have to ask my opponent, is that the best you can come up with? Is that really what this election is about? Is that what is worthy of the American people?

Yup, that sure sounds like a parent lecturing a teenager.


Anonymous said...

Hey, sounds like me. Now I'm not WWII, but I grew up in a time not to far removed. No seat belts, If you had doors on the car it was fairly new. My gran dad gave me beer when I was 13 or 14. If you could do a man's job, you were considered a man. You had to take the thumps but what the hell. Part of growing up.

Hannibal Lectern said...

My Barack what BIG ears you have!

Dennis Prouse said...

I hadn't thought of that analogy, Joan, but it is both funny and strangely accurate! :-) I keep going back and forth on McCain -- there are days when I think he is going to do really well in the Fall, and other days when I cringe upon seeing what appears to be the Bob Dole campaign of 1996.

Really, though, this election is less about McCain than it is about Obama. If the public thinks Obama passes muster as Commander in Chief, they will vote for him. If not, they will default to McCain. The bad news for the GOP is that this is Obama's race to lose. The good news is that, on many days, he is looking perfectly capable of doing just that despite a set of circumstances custom made for a Democratic candidate.