The ad’s premise, he said, is “childish.”
“John’s been a celebrity ever since he was shot down,” Weaver said. “Whatever that means. And I recall Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush going overseas and all those waving American flags.”
Weaver remains in contact with senior McCain strategists and, for a while early this year, regularly talked to McCain.
The strategy of driving up Obama’s negatives “reduces McCain on the stage,” Weaver said.
“For McCain to win in such troubled times, he needs to begin telling the American people how he intends to lead us. That McCain exists. He can inspire the country to greatness.”
He added: “There is legitimate mockery of a political campaign now, and it isn’t at Obama’s. For McCain’s sake, this tomfoolery needs to stop.”
Ramesh Ponnuru agrees, as do I, but with the caveat that today’s ad was actually the one effective thing they’ve done lately. (CNN notes that Obama himself — back before he’d even been elected senator — once compared his overexposure to Paris Hilton’s.) The problem is that it follows a line of spots that were either stupid, dishonest, or borderline incoherent; that’s why some GOP analysts are worried about Maverick’s negative turn lately. It’s not that attacks are bad per se, it’s that McCain has a solid brand of his own that he’s neglecting or even devaluing by hitting Obama in such petty ways. Which is strange, given that his very first ads of the general campaign were the most glaringly brand-oriented clips any candidate’s run.
Presumably he’s doing all of this now, during the summer when attention spans are lower, in preparation for a return to brand-building after the convention. Per tonight’s new CNN poll, there’s no evidence (yet) that it’s hurt him. But note: “There is some danger for McCain in making these charges. Forty percent say he is attacking Obama unfairly, while only 22 percent say Obama is unfairly attacking McCain.”
Update: Remember what I said last night about the feebleness of Obama’s ad team? Feast your eyes on what they came up with as a reply to McCain’s now nationally famous Britney ad.