McCain’s “I am not a crook” Strategy

Nothing delights me more than hearing John McCain say, “I am not George Bush.”  Back during Watergate, every time Richard Nixon said “I am not a crook,” the American public thought Nixon was a crook.  The saying worked against his declarations because, as George Lakoff reminds us, the public associated Nixon with the word crook.

McCain is doing the same with George Bush. Every time he says he is not Bush, the public associates him with Bush. Ah, the wonders of framing. 

When John McCain turned to Barack Obama last week and told him he was not George Bush, I knew he would lose the election.  This morning, the front page WaPO Story says “McCain stresses he’s not Bush.”  Well, keep stressing John.

The McCain effort at this late stage of the campaign to show he is not Bush works the same as seeing McCain emphasizing and defending deep red states on the electoral map. These are defensive moves that he should have covered months ago.

Beyond that however is the framing that takes place every time McCain takes it to barack by insisting he, McCain, is not Bush.  McCain is using Obama’s language, which is designed to get the public to connect McCain and Bush. Its more effective than Obama advertising, and it allows Obama to devote his $150. million on getting out the vote.


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