DUSTY RHOADES: Is John McCain Jealous of Barack Obama?
I know, I know, it seems like I keep picking on Sen. McCain. I really tried to find a topic this week other than Honorable John. But the guy's like PETA: when it comes to comedy, he's a gift that just keeps on giving.
McCain's most recent series of political ads seems to be zeroing in on the idea of Barack Obama as a "celebrity." One shows him in front of thousands of cheering fans during his recent overseas trip, juxtaposed with pictures of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Another ad refers to him as "the biggest celebrity in the world."
One of his campaign advisers sneered that "Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day, demand MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars, and bottles of organic Black Forest Berry Honest Tea. "
I'm no political consultant, but it would seem that pointing out that Barack Obama is more charismatic, draws bigger crowds, and is more physically fit than McCain would work against McCain. But there may be another agenda at work here.
If you go to McCain's page at the trusty Internet Movie Database, you find appearances by Sen. John McCain on "Saturday Night Live" (twice), the movie "The Wedding Crashers," a 2004 episode of "24," "Entertainment Tonight" (twice), "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (three times), "The Daily Show" (12 times!), "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (10 times), "The Late Show With David Letterman" (eight times), "The View" (twice), "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee," "WWF's Raw is War," "ESPN Sports Century," etc. etc.
Unfortunate though it may be, "celebrity" is the lot of any serious candidate, and has been for years, ever since Tricky Dick Nixon appeared on "Laugh-In" all those years ago. So why, I wondered, would Sen. McCain be so grumpy and out of sorts about Obama being a "celebrity" when he himself apparently is one?
That's when it hit me. McCain's jealous! He's mad that Obama's getting better gigs than he is! Obama's working big crowds all over the world, whereas Honorable John, after paying his dues by appearing as an extra in a Vince Vaughn movie, is reduced to opening for Kid Rock at the yearly biker rally in Sturgis, S.D., and offering his wife Cindy as a candidate for the bikers' often-topless "beauty pageant."
(No, I am not making that last part up. "I encouraged Cindy to compete," McCain told the drunken, cheering crowd. "I told her with a little luck she could be the only woman ever to serve as first lady and Miss Buffalo Chip." OK, I'll admit that Mrs. McCain is well preserved in that heavily lacquered way common to the very, very rich, but all I can say is: John. Dude. Eww. But I digress.)
Then there was the whole "tire gauge" flap. It seems that part of Obama's comprehensive strategy for reducing dependence on oil is reducing the amount of gas we use. That would include higher mileage standards. But it would also, Obama pointed out in a speech, include things we all can do. Things as simple as making sure your tires are inflated to the proper pressure. If everyone did that, Obama pointed out (quoting actual studies), we could reduce consumption by 3 to 4 percent.
Now, "you'll save gas if your tires are properly inflated" is advice that's been given to me by everyone from the Department of Energy to Triple A to my car's owner's manual to my dad. But apparently, when commonsense advice is proffered by Barack Obama, it's an occasion for big yuks from the McCaniacs. They started passing out tire gauges to people at their campaign events, embossed with the words "Obama's Energy Plan" on them.
I'm having trouble trying to work out who McCain thinks his new base is. Is it out-of-shape bikers who hate celebrities and don't care about automotive maintenance or their gas mileage? I'm not sure how many electoral votes you can carry with that demographic, but again, I'm no political consultant.
Frankly, the entire McCain campaign is starting to sound like a fat, pimply high school outcast posting furious screeds on his MySpace page about the popular kids, complete with multiple exclamation points: "They think they're so cool!!! They think they're so smart!!!! But they're NOT!!!!! I LAUGH at them!!!!! HA!!!"
Then, the other day, McCain did an about-face on tire inflation. He came out and admitted that Obama (and the DOE and Triple A and my car's owner's manual and my dad) are right. He stated in a "telephone town hall" meeting with voters in Pennsylvania that, "Obama a couple of days ago said we all should inflate our tires. I don't disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it."
Which raises the question: Is John McCain flip-flopping on tire pressure? Or does he just not remember what his own campaign just said?
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes and practices law in Carthage. His fourth novel, "Breaking Cover," is available now.
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