The handful of white women fawning over Barack Obama in John McCain's latest attack ad hardly seems an accident, nor does the Republican's decision to include the line, "Hot chicks dig Obama."
Some observers say the Web video is a not-so-subtle attempt by McCain to play on white voters' racial fears, comparing the attack to the infamous "call me" spot attacking African American Democrat Harold Ford in his unsuccessful Senate run two years ago.
Predictably, conservatives are rushing to McCain's defense, saying that the accusations of racism coming from some on the left are far worse than the underhanded racism McCain is accused of deploying.
A McCain adviser tells ABC's Jake Tapper, who counts four white women professing their Obama love in the vid, that the campaign's intention was only to point out that "the kids think he's dreamy," apparently ignoring any suggestion of racial overtones.
"Why do you think they put so many young white women professing their love for Obama in what is clearly an anti-Obama video?" Tapper asks. "What would possibly be negative about young white women liking Sen. Obama?"
After McCain released his first "celeb" ad juxtaposing Obama and Britney Spears and Paris Hilton -- two young white celebrities known as sex symbols -- the Republican faced similar accusations that he was trying to play upon miscegenation fears.
While any implication in the first ad was far less overt, accusations of racism that time around seem to have inoculated the McCain campaign from more overt condemnation of its latest ad, allowing conservative defenders to simply dismiss any criticism as more of the same. Provoking such consternation may even be the whole point, one right-wing blogger thinks.
So, why does McCain put them in there anyway, if libs like Jake Tapper are going to freak out over it? Duh -- because he WANTS THEM TO FREAK OUT OVER IT.
When they freak out, it creates controversy. Controversy creates views of McCain's YouTube videos which hit Obama on the issues -- taxes, for example -- and also hammer home the meta-meme that Obama is a substanceless puffball who isn't qualified to be President of the United States.
Indeed, McCain's first round of ads mocking Obama as a celebrity and "the one" seem to have had some effect. Even beyond the racial implications, they do seem to have raised some doubts among older voters that Obama is just the candidate of frivolous youngsters.
Obama, who's on vacation in Hawaii this week, has not received quite as much traction with his TV and Web ads hitting McCain. Some see a double standard in the media's treatment of McCain and wonder what would happen if Obama was as aggressive in attacking the Republican's most obvious vulnerabilities.
"Had Obama run ads calling McCain a senile old adulterer married to a drug addict we'd never hear the end of it from McCain and the corporate media," says AMERICAblog's John Aravosis. "But McCain continues this sleazy bizarre attack on Obama and where is the media? Why aren't they all asking McCain every single day why he lied about never going negative? Why he's given up on being a maverick? Why he no longer talks to the media? Why his campaign days have grown so short? Why he no longer seems to even be in charge of his own campaign?"