The McCain campaign may have picked the wrong starlet

If you're going to make an attack ad comparing your opponent to Paris Hilton, you might want to check your contributor list.

Published August 1, 2008 1:55PM (EDT)

Anyone who has been keeping tabs on the brouhaha surrounding the John McCain ad that compares Barack Obama to Paris Hilton (and, for that matter, Britney Spears) might be interested in this ironic bit of news: According to the Los Angeles Times, Hilton's father is on record as a McCain supporter. In fact, notes the Times, Rick Hilton was so enthusiastic about McCain that he donated twice as much as legally allowed. (The campaign returned the extra money.)

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't be allowed to use photos of your supporters' daughters in your attack ads. But couldn't the McCain campaign find another overexposed (literally and figuratively) young woman to imply that Obama is a clueless starlet? Perhaps someone should make a different campaign contribution: a copy of Us Weekly.

My favorite part about that particular ad, though, is the room it leaves for interpretation. One could have poked fun at Obama's celebrity status without Britney and Paris. So is the McCain campaign trying to suggest that, if elected, Obama will flash us his underpants while leaving Air Force One? Will he abandon his presidential responsibilities to launch his own fragrance line? Will he start a post-presidential career as a B-list actor? I won't claim to have answers to those questions (though that Obama cologne idea is a good one, people), but at least this much is clear: If Rick Hilton doesn't have a sense of humor, McCain may have just lost a vote.

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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