It has an extraordinarily genuine patriotic pull as one sees a much younger McCain in Vietnam, then arriving home after the Hanoi Hilton. In short, the ad for the Republican presidential candidate makes one proud to be an American, to be sure, but it has a Biography Channel vibe to it. It just doesn't feel in the here and now.
Neither does McCain.
Is McCain a hero? Yes. Is the ad moving? Check. But what does that do for us today?
Focusing on war hero narrative and stock footage that just make him look older and more out of touch with people concerned about gas prices, groceries and looming household issues in swing state country.
People are paying $90 to fill up their trucks, and we even have the advent of a new term -- "staycation" -- for those who are using vacation time at home because they can't afford to travel. Meanwhile, McCain gives us former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas.
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," Gramm told The Washington Times. "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."
Added Gramm, "We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."
You hear that from McCain's top advisor Gramm, and it does stick, because it is so wildly disconnected with what many Iowans see happening with their household budgets. A few wacky reverends, from the left or the right, veering into the information superhighway, feeds the 24/7 news beast and no doubt move some voters. But the comment from Gramm, a man McCain called his economic guru is deeply revealing -- a George H.W. Bush watch-glancing moment that is dismissive of just folks.
As we hear Gramm's remarks, we start to see the McCain commercial in which the Arizona senator essentially wants to re-fight the Vietnam War, dividing the nation along 40-year-old lines.
Here is the announcer in the ad Camp McCain titles "Love":
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.
Even if you were with McCain in the 1960s, is there anything about that era remotely relevant to matters today. We all know McCain is a war hero. That card is punched. He needs to fill in the rest of the character sketch, make himself seem less historical, more modern -- which may be challenging for a 71-year-old who admits that he doesn't use computers and has never sent an email. One blogger has taken to calling the candidate McFossil in a riff on his age.
I am convinced that the most rapid way for McCain to turn this around is to select Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate as it would, among other advantages, train attention on energy issues.
Palin , a 44-year-old with five children, a captivating TV-mom look and a brief and but weighty background as a reformer governor, could vault from relative national obscurity to star in a game-turning role as John McCain's running mate.
She screams here and now. We can hear it all the way from Alaska. McCain needs her speaking for the campaign, not sinked ships like Gramm who flopped in a presidential bid in 1996 and seems to have lost the return ticket from his time trip back to that period in America.