Column: McCain's 'Celebrity' Ad Woefully Off The Mark

This story was written by Negar Tehrani, Daily Bruin

As the McCain versus Obama battle of the campaign advertisements rages on, it appears that a well-known expression should be tweaked to advise McCain of his strategy: If you cant say anything legitimately bad, dont say anything at all.

John McCains recent television ad, calling Barack Obama a celebrity and ranking him with images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, does more to damage McCains campaigning capabilities than Obamas character.

The ad begins by calling Obama the biggest celebrity in the world, then proceeds to question his ability and preparedness in leading the United States. The ad aims at attacking Obamas popularity among not only American voters but also the citizens of the foreign countries Obama recently visited on his campaign trail, including Germany and Britain.

However, McCain does not realize that by pointing out Obamas apparent rise in popularity, he really draws attention to his own lack of popularity among voters. Being popular is a necessity in a political campaign. After all, the American voting process begins with the popular vote, which in turn influences how the Electoral College ultimately votes in choosing the future president.

But if it is popularity with which McCain has an issue, it is important to understand how this ad defines the term. If McCains definition of popularity entails making sex tapes of yourself and spreading them, driving under the influence and endangering the lives of others, and getting married to Kevin Federline, then where does Obama fit in with all this?

How does Obamas 23 years of service thus far to his country, beginning with his work as a community leader in Chicago at age 24, or the respect he has earned with his education and concern for his fellow citizens even remotely associate him with this connotation of popularity that McCains ad portrays?

If anything, what McCains ad accomplishes more than its goal of damaging Obamas image as a serious leader is to compliment Hilton and Spears by associating them with Obama.

The fact that two figures such as Hilton and Spears, who have done nothing to present themselves as valuable citizens in our society, are in a presidential campaign that can potentially shape the future of the nation shows just how little of a real grasp McCain has on Obamas possible political weaknesses.

Furthermore, if McCain is worried about his own image and popularity with the American public, instead of making empty remarks about Obamas character, he should try to increase his own popularity by pointing out his own strengths and commenting on Obamas weaknesses in policy.

Rather than attack Obamas political stand on important issues, McCains focus on what he perceives as effective name-calling makes him look childish and inept at launching a fully legitimate argument against the policies of his political opponent. McCains lack of attention to Obamas actual words or platform makes his campaign weaker because he appears to have nothing substantially negative to say about Obama.

More importantly, instead of encouraging voters to look at the bigger issues in the political campaigns and make comparative decisions based on who has the better solutions, McCain is turning his campaigning strategy into a popularity contest.

Through such juvenile advertising maneuvers, McCain makes himself out to be the more inadequate leader. As Obama said in a statement following McCains celeb ad, He seems to only be talking about me. You need to ask John McCain what hes for, not just what hes against.