June 26, 2008

John McCain clearly wants to make unflattering Barack Obama comparisons, but he seems to be having a little trouble with cultural references.

A couple of weeks ago, McCain said Obama reminds him of William Jennings Bryan. Given that Bryan last ran for president literally 100 years ago, this was something of a dud. Shortly thereafter, McCain went with a Jimmy Carter reference, which is likely to fall flat with about half the voters.

Now, the McCain campaign is going with an ad, riffing off the first James Bond film, “Dr. No,” which was released just one year after Barack Obama was born.

First, of course, is the generational problem. James Bond movies remain popular, but if the campaign is sensitive about McCain’s status as a septuagenarian, picking a 46-year-old movie as a cultural reference might not be the best idea. (As Oliver Willis recently noted, “McCain went from a 19th century comparison to a 20th century comparison. At some point in his campaign I suppose he might join Sen. Obama and the rest of us in the 21st century.”)

Second, and more importantly, is the substance. Obama has said no to various McCain campaign ideas, but only because they’re bad ideas.

Besides, if anyone's been saying no to an effective energy policy, it's McCain, not Obama.

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