McCain Sharpens Security Attack

Created: August 27, 2008 11:28 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Picking up where yesterday’s “3 AM” ad — which appeared to be designed to scare the pants off of voters — left off, the McCain campaign released another TV spot today. This one suggets an Obama presidency would pose a national security risk to America. The ad, titled “Tiny,” will air in “key states,” according to the campaign, whatever that means. It could be broadcast in 11 battleground states, it could air only in Toledo, or not at all. The new spot focuses on the threat a nuclear-armed Iran would present to Israel and the United States.

PRODUCTION NOTES: Visually, this ad is interesting because it is stylistically different from all previous ads from either campaign. It entirely comprised of a series of dark, ominous still shots that appear to be layered, with one area — either the foreground or background — in focus, and the other out of focus. The camera pans across the pictures, or zooms in or out, creating a sort of three-dimensional effect that is actually kind of cool.

On to the meat: The first image features Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad standing at a podium, appearing to be giving a speech near a large poster of an ayatollah. A male announcer says, “Iran. Radical Islamic government.” The next picture is of a large banner on a wall that reads, “Don’t Forget to Say Death To America” — of course, they speak Farsi in Iran so it’s unlikely such a banner appears anywhere in Iran. A little artistic license on the part of the production company. “Known sponsors of terrorism,” the announcer continues, “Developing nuclear capabilities to [slight pause to imply "air quotes"] generate power, but threatening to destroy Israel.”

The viewer then sees Ahmadinejad with a lab coat-clad scientist in front of what looks like a missile. A picture of Sen. Barack Obama appears on screen, followed quickly by an image of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps soldiers and a jihadist holding a bazooka, –subtle, right? — as the announcer says:

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There it is — “dangerously unprepared to be president.” This is a significant step further than the the McCain campaign’s signature refrain that Obama is “not ready to lead.” The message to voters is that if we elect Obama, we are putting ourselves at risk. This doesn’t seem to be a far cry from Vice President Dick Cheney’s suggestion during the 2004 presidential campaign that a Democratic win would invite “devastating” terrorist attacks.

The Obama quote cited in the ad is pulled — not surprisingly, more than a little out of context — from a statement Obama made in Oregon in May. The McCain campaign helpfully includes the whole quote in the email announcement for the ad. Here it is, in context:

Obama actually said Iran is tiny and poses a minor threat when “compared to the Soviet Union.” He goes on to say later that Iran’s military could never be any match for that of the United States. Here’s part of the rest of the quote:

Obviously, according to the McCain campaign, that’s completely insane. Talking to adversaries doesn’t help Republicans win elections. But if history is any indicator — especially with two diplomacy-focused senators on the Democratic ticket — convincing voters that we may see a mushroom cloud in an American city if we elect the wrong candidate just might.