Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hanoi Hiltoning John McCain

If John Kerry got "Swift Boated" in 2004, is John McCain about to get "Hanoi Hiltoned" this year?

It would appear, so far as presidential politics goes, the Vietnam War is a gift that keeps on giving. To Republicans and Democrats alike.

BRAVE NEW PAC has come out with an ad and Internet video featuring a former Naval Academy classmate of McCain's who, as it happens, occupied the cell across the corridor from the GOP presidential nominee in the infamous North Vietnamese prison.

"I think I can say with authority that the prisoner of war experience is not a good prerequisite for a president of the United States," Phillip Butler says in a 30-second ad by the political action committee. The TV commercial is based on the PAC's much longer YouTube video featuring Butler.

Brave New PAC aired the ad on national cable for a couple of days, reports Talking Points Memo, to see whether "Hanoi Hiltoning" McCain has legs:

Robert Greenwald's Brave New PAC goes up on national cable with a new 30-second spot starring fellow McCain POW Phillip Butler, who says he knows from personal experience that a POW background is not desirable in a commander-in-chief.

"John McCain is not somebody that I would like to see with his finger near the red button," Butler says in the spot.


As for the buy itself, it's a modest one. The spot is running on national cable today (and ran yesterday, too). It's funded by Brave New Films and Democracy For America, the independent group run by Jim Dean, who's Howard Dean's brother.

The ad is really a flare -- an effort to see if this controversial line of attack catches the attention of the national media.

"If it takes off and this storyline gets some pickup, then that'll give us some incentive to go raise more money for it," Brave New PAC spokesperson Leighton Woodhouse tells me.

I DON'T KNOW WHY the ad wouldn't "have legs."

Actually, what Brave New PAC proposes in 2008 is thin gruel compared to what George W. Bush's backers actually did to McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary. Pro-Bush forces, after all, went so far as to suggest McCain was some kind of Manchurian Candidate.

All the Democrat-leaning PAC contends with the latest videos is that McCain was a touchy hothead before he was taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese, and that "the POW experience" certainly does not enhance one's physical or mental health.

To tell you the truth, I was wondering when the Dems would get around to publicly saying what I had been thinking for some time now.

And if there are others like me. . . .

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