I was reading Jim Rutenberg's story on this, and I was trying to work out why this new strategy by McCain rankles me. I think it's because the "Obama is Britney" line is too clever for its own good. The "John Kerry is an effete windsurfer" pitch made sense mostly because the country was at war. It directly attacked the idea that Kerry claim to the commander in chief mantle. The idea was that Kerry wasn't tough enough to deal with Al'Qaeda. Whatever you may think of that charge, it's clear and direct.

But the McCain attack is much more passive-aggressive, and isn't really as clear. First, I know that there is a substantial portion of Americans who don't like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, but it's not clear to me that there is a significant portion of Americans who don't like celebrities in general. To the country, there is a large group of people who reliably drop millions of dollars to see the latest Will Smith feature. Implicit in the McCain attack is this idea that most celebrities are famous for being famous. I guess. But Tiger Woods is demonstrably a great golfer. Michael Jordan really did have a killer turn-around jumper. John Kennedy really did create the Peace Corps. Clint Eastwood really is a great actor and director.

In other words, it doesn't directly follow that celebrity equals bad president in the way that effete equals bad commander in chief. Being effete is considered the opposite of being a commander in chief. I'm not sure that being a celebrity is considered the opposite of being president. Indeed, it's kind of hard to be president and not be a celebrity--that comes with the job. So then what is the attack? Obama already is a celebrity--just like all our past presidents? Maybe I'm slow. I'm just not getting it.

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