John McCain ‘Love’ Ad

John McCain’s latest ad, “Love,” contrasts himself with those dirty hippies who spent the summer of 1968 on sex, drugs, and rock and roll rather than being tortured for their country.

The voiceover:

It was a time of uncertainty, hope and change. The “Summer Of Love.”

Half a world away, another kind of love — of country.

John McCain: Shot down. Bayoneted. Tortured.

Offered early release, he said, “No.” He’d sworn an oath.

Home, he turned to public service.

His philosophy: before party, polls and self … America.

A maverick, John McCain tackled campaign reform, military reform, spending reform.

He took on presidents, partisans and popular opinion.

He believes our world is dangerous, our economy in shambles.

John McCain doesn’t always tell us what we “hope” to hear.

Beautiful words cannot make our lives better.

But a man who has always put his country and her people before self, before politics can.

Don’t “hope” for a better life. Vote for one.


The response I’ve seen so far has been positive.

  • Brian Montopoli summarizes the obvious message: “The spot casts presumptive GOP nominee John McCain as a man who served his country abroad while many of his peers were enmeshed in the upheaval of the 1960s at home.”
  • DrewM. isn’t so sure, “I think the ad is fine, though I’m not sure tying Obama to the 60s is going to work considering the guy was born in 61.” (The original version of the post, as I got it in Google Reader, had a great line that’s since been redacted: “What’s the next McCain ad going to be…Hey, get off my lawn!?”)
  • Matt Yglesias thinks “it’s a decent ad that does the job of simultaneously hitting McCain’s main biographical theme while also trying to position McCain as a candidate for those who think the country’s on the wrong track.”

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (not to mention angering Jim Geraghty) I continue to believe McCain is banging the war hero drum too loudly. He’s quickly getting into Rudy Giuliani a noun, a verb, and 9/11 territory. That he was a grown man dealing with the worst the world has to offer while Obama was in grade school is a point worth making. But it won’t be — nor should it be — enough to get him elected. Elections are about the future, not the distant past.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Blogosphere, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    The 60’s isn’t so much when you were born as it is a state of mindless.

  2. Michael says:

    I’m still not sure why his campaign insists on making me associate their candidate with pain, suffering and evil, while contrasting him with love and peace and happiness.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    I think that Sen. McCain needs to be very careful in going in this particular direction. He risks losing people who aren’t enthralled about either candidate but more concerned about Obama’s thin resume and lack of foreign policy or military background than they are about McCain’s national greatness views. In an election decided on the margins that could be the difference between winning an losing.

  4. c. wagener says:

    He believes our economy is in shambles?

    Man I’m glad I can walk to the polling place ’cause I’m going to need a couple of margaritas to vote for this guy. (Hope I don’t vote for Buchanan by mistake).

  5. legion says:

    I agree that the ‘war hero’ bit has gone on too long. The more McCain underlines what he did in the past (almost 40 years ago, btw), the more it begs the question “What have you done lately?”, and that’s something he really doesn’t seem to want to answer. Especially since it just draws attention to how thoroughly he’s swallowed the Bush kool-aid & turned back on everything he ever pledged to do back in his “maverick” days.

  6. Jim Henley says:

    Is McCain still running?

  7. just me says:

    I thought it was a mistake for Kerry to play war hero and while McCain’s record as a naval aviator and experiences during Vietnam are worth mentioning biographically, I agree pounding the drum is getting old.

    But I also think Obama’s campaign needs to handle this part of the McCain biography with care. It doesn’t do Obama any good to try to pretend like McCain’s experiences in the military are nothing more than honorable service. Makes me think McCain keeps playing this card in the hopes that Obama’s surrogates will attack this line.

    If he is going to stress biography and experience right now I think McCain would do better to start contrasting his experience in the senate-leadership roles, legislation passed, etc with Obama’s. This is one area where McCain’s argument is germane and way outdoes Obama’s.

  8. Benedict says:

    The themes of this ad seem straight out of Jim Webb’s Born Fighing, and I would guess that it will be in heavy rotation in the Ohio / Pennsylvania / West Virginia locales which went so heavily for Clinton against Obama.

  9. anjin-san says:

    “What have you done lately?”,

    Well, thats pretty much McCain’s problem. What has he done lately? Support for the surge helps him, but the surge was really just damage control on a horribly botched operation, and his stroll thru Baghdad thing probably goes a long ways to counterbalancing it. Throw in Lieberman whispering in his ear and it is not that hard for Obama to get a push on Iraq.

    What else has he done? Peddle influence to lobbyists. Nothing unusual there, but his insistence that he is squeaky clean will come back to haunt him…

  10. john marzan says:

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record (not to mention angering Jim Geraghty) I continue to believe McCain is banging the war hero drum too loudly.

    i don’t think he’s running on the “War hero” angle. Him being shot down was just part of his life story.

    What he is running on is CHARACTER, experience, and LEADERSHIP.

  11. john marzan says:

    great ad btw.