McCain's Message

By Patrick
Ross isn't impressed with McCain's general election ad:

Now of course it's still early, and there's a case to be made that a biography-centric roll-out for the campaign is good way to lay the groundwork for the fall contest. But the latest web ad from the McCain camp pushes all my Dole-redux buttons. It's a paean to heroes in general, to McCain's favorite high school teacher specifically, and more specifically still to the principle that you ought to turn in your friends when they break the honor code. Now maybe this is, as Jonah suggests, a canny below-the-radar pitch to the crucial crotchety-white-guy vote. But it makes it seem like John McCain is running to be the headmaster of the school in Dead Poets Society, and while anything that sticks it to Robin Williams' annoying and irresponsible Emerson-wannabe of an English teacher is catnip to me, I'm not sure that running as the guy who'll clean up the local prep school is the best way for a seventysomething politician with a reputation for being, well, a little crabby to make his case for the American Presidency.

Richelieu's thoughts:

Maybe I'm missing something, but it looks and feels and sounds much more like a primary spot to me. I think McCain's amazing story should be a key part of his general election message. But if that is the opening move -- and I can make good arguments both for and against that strategy -- should they do a spot that commits to that idea instead of just implying it as this ad does.

More importantly, what exactly is the McCain general election message strategy? Hard to find in this ad, unless the plan is to hang the whole general election campaign entirely on the war. If so, that would be Axelrod's dream come true. My fear is that McCainland doesn't have a general election message strategy.