McCain ad: “Lipstick”; Flashback: Obama flips the bird at Hillary; Update: Sexist Memory Lane

posted at 8:00 am on September 10, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

It didn’t take Team McCain long to develop a new television spot from Barack Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” comment.  They have rolled out this 30-second spot hammering Obama for his sexism, using a Katie Couric quote to remind viewers of Obama’s allegedly sexist campaign against Hillary Clinton.  They also note that while Obama isn’t ready to lead, he seems ready to smear:

I’d say the gloves are off. No need to post a transcript with this ad; it doesn’t take many words to get to the point.

Did Obama really mean to call Sarah Palin a pig, or at least refer to her in that sentence? In order to answer that question, people have to look at the full context of his statement here. He also said this:

“You can put lipstick on a pig,” he said as the crowd cheered. “It’s still a pig.”

“You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It’s still gonna stink.”

“We’ve had enough of the same old thing.”

Given that Palin had very publicly made the lipstick/pit bull joke during her widely-seen acceptance speech, it certainly seems that Obama intended to reference both Palin and McCain respectively in this sequence, with Palin being the pig and McCain the “old fish” wrapped in change.  The crowd certainly understood what Obama meant, and roared appreciatively.

Now Obama and his team want to pretend that this sequence had no meaning whatsoever.  It’s always difficult to gauge intent, but one would have to think Obama an idiot for not seeing the subtext of his own statement, especially since the crowd understood it all too well.  Obama himself has cried about the supposed racist attacks of Republicans and the McCain campaign all summer long, without ever once giving any evidence of it, and certainly not a data point like this.

If Obama wants to argue subliminal racism, he has no defense against overt sexism now.  This is his game, and he just proved himself incompetent at it.

The question is whether this is worth the trouble of making an ad, and of doing an ad buy — which are two separate questions.  I’d bet that this never sees air time, or if it does, only in precisely selected target markets.  Even with the 30-second run time, this is better suited for a web ad.  The end is a little too harsh; I wouldn’t call this a smear anyway.  It’s a disrespectful insult, which is different, and not the most outrageous Palin attack we’ve seen from Team Obama in any case.

Update: I’m getting several requests for this video, in which Obama apparently flips Hillary Clinton the bird during a speech in April:

What’s interesting about this is the timing. Obama had just torpedoed himself with his Crackerquiddick comments in San Francisco about small-town Americans (like Palin!) bitterly clinging to guns and God. Hillary had just cleaned Obama’s clock in a Philadelphia debate two days earlier. He responded to the pressure with a crude gesture — not exactly the kind of intelligent response one would expect from the former editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Update II: A few more data points for those wondering about Obama’s insensitivity on sexist imagery:

  • “She’s got the kitchen sink flying, and the china flying, and the, you know, the buffet is coming at me.” — April 20
  • “You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out.” — February, Tulane University
  • “I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal.” — February

Again, this is Obama’s turf.  He started this line of thinking by accusing John McCain and Republicans on four separate occasions this summer of conducting racist attacks by coded subtext.  If he wants to play that game, the McCain campaign just let him know that they can play it better.


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Comment pages: 1 3 4 5

“Read my Lipstick!” not sure, but the buttons may be out…I took a snap-shot at a site.

Karmi on September 11, 2008 at 12:04 AM

I was pretty sure that the “flipped the bird” thing was debunked, but I see that it’s back. Sometimes a face scratch is just a face scratch.

Ed- what’s weird is that when the video was first posted, one of your guys called the allegation (made by the NO QUARTER crowd) “moronic“.

ChenZhen on September 11, 2008 at 12:14 AM

I was pretty sure that the “flipped the bird” thing was debunked, but I see that it’s back. Sometimes a face scratch is just a face scratch.

You call that a debunking? In the video, it’s quite clear what he was doing, particularly when he smirks as the crowd reacts.

Obama may have no class, but he’s got no shortage of apologists.

capitalist piglet on September 11, 2008 at 12:20 AM

It’s too bad that BHO and Palin won’t debate. She could have a little Obama flambe for dinner.

Mojave Mark on September 11, 2008 at 12:56 AM

CBS claiming copyright infringement on that ad is just lame.

BryanS on September 11, 2008 at 1:06 AM

It’s just too bizarre that he’s spending so much time sparring with #2 on the ticket. Where’s he hiding Biden?

Was listening to a local radio show here in NE Pa. (host is guy named something Corbett). Some time back Corbett identified himself as a Hillary supporter. That being said I was amazed to hear him go after Obama regarding the pig comment. Quite a few of the male callers identified themselves as Democrats, but they were also upset that he “would talk about a lady” that way. Sounds to me like many of those “Reagan Democrats” were offended by the remark.

IMO Obama isn’t ready for prime time.

poodlemom on September 11, 2008 at 1:10 AM

See my comment at the bottom of page 3. Those 3 youtube clips are the SAME speech – the Freeper’s been had. I advise caution!

RD on September 10, 2008 at 12:57 PM

I’m sorry but I have looked at those over and over. There are different people behind him! Even you admitt there maybe two… so even twice means it in no way could have been an accident!

petunia on September 11, 2008 at 4:07 AM

I was pretty sure that the “flipped the bird” thing was debunked, but I see that it’s back. Sometimes a face scratch is just a face scratch.

You call that a debunking? In the video, it’s quite clear what he was doing, particularly when he smirks as the crowd reacts.

capitalist piglet on September 11, 2008 at 12:20 AM

Often a cigar is just a cigar, but seldom will a mob be denied.

Sigmund on September 11, 2008 at 4:39 AM

I always thought “lipstick” was Palin, and “pig” was Bush/republican policy. But I also always thought “lipstick” was an elitist (and sexist) objectification of an accomplished woman. To Obama, Palin is just a skirt. Even “sweetie” is less objectifying than “lipstick”.

G. Charles on September 11, 2008 at 7:10 AM

I still contend that IF he were genuinely using the expression to describe both McCain and Palin or along some acceptable line, then even he has the political wherewithal to understand that by apologizing for an unintended interpretation, he would be able to deflect a lot of anger. Its called damage control.

The media would give him a pass, and the McCain camp woudn’t have turned it into a commercial. The more this kind of crap lingers, the more the misogyny claims will resonate.

He hasn’t apologized, and the expression is being used in other contexts.

Keep it coming.

Marine_Bio on September 11, 2008 at 7:25 AM

ok, here’s my two cents out of 378 comments, if anyone cares. My opinion is that Obama at first mean any reference to Gov. Palin,but as soon as there is a slight reaction in the crowd, he pauses. As if he’s thinking “people are making an association with Sarah Palin. Should I stop and correct myself or just go with it?” Of course we know what his choice was.

vcferlita on September 11, 2008 at 9:28 AM

ok i need an editor. It should have read: My opinionn is that Obama at first did not mean any reference..

vcferlita on September 11, 2008 at 9:29 AM

What is interesting about the flipping the bird video was the fact the Bam Bam wasn’t actually saying anything. He was just rambling, which seems to be his hallmark. Where is the brilliant orator we keep on hearing about? Tehre’s no tehre tehre.

Jewel on September 11, 2008 at 9:53 AM

the flipping the bird..

‘Lipstick on a pig’

* “She’s got the kitchen sink flying, and the china flying, and the, you know, the buffet is coming at me.” — April 20
* “You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out.” — February, Tulane University
* “I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal.” — February

I would be inclined to believe it was a coincidence if it was only a one or two things.. but altogether, I think it is a showing sign of his maturity level..

on some level, he’s trying to drop sub-conscience insults to his opponents.

I think Jim Treacher said it best.. he’s a jerk.

DaveC on September 11, 2008 at 10:24 AM

Maybe we should just call him D’Ohbama!

Religious_Zealot on September 11, 2008 at 10:39 AM

Often a cigar is just a cigar, but seldom will a mob be denied.

Sigmund on September 11, 2008 at 4:39 AM

Sure. Unless there is a mountain of evidence that the “cigar” is actually something else.

How stupid does he think we – or should I say, “some of us”? – are? I guess he smirked when the audience reacted because he was just so darned happy, huh?

Please.

capitalist piglet on September 11, 2008 at 1:45 PM

Hey, Ed. The first video has predictably been taken down. Do you have it anywhere else?

TimothyJ on September 11, 2008 at 1:49 PM

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