Scher is the liberal in a Bloggingheads episode, and his interlocutor, Conn Carroll of the Heritage Foundation, makes a different point about McCain's use of biography in his new ads: There are "ways" to use this material and other "kind of more unAmerican, I guess, ways to do it," Carroll says, noting "that might be a bad phrase."
He's... talking about his family going all the way back to George Washington, you know, served on George Washington's staff.... He's got an airbase named after him. And he's establishing this, like, almost royal pedigree, and, you know, this is not a country built on royalty. We're a country about, you know, not caring what your parents did. We're a country about, you know, what do you, what did you do, you know, how have you built your story. And it just was very, you know, not very American to go out there and say I've got this long, royal lineage that you all should respect, you know, please vote for me, as opposed to Barack Obama's message of, you know, I created my own identity out of the American image and, you know, I am you, let's go forward. It's, it's grating on many conservative ears.So, let's see. McCain took up a family tradition of service and gave of himself, profoundly, and that's not as good, and not as conservative, as having "built your story" and "created" your "identity." It's more American to build and create stories and identities? I don't get it. I mean, I understand the American love of the self-made individual who came out of nowhere. And there is something very American — not in the loftiest sense — about inventing a marketable character for yourself. (I'm thinking of Buffalo Bill Cody, Madonna, etc.) But I don't see the conservative problem with situating the individual in a historical tradition. (McCain had a brilliant ad in early March that I thought expressed profound conservative values exactly this way.)
And Barack Obama isn't a self-made man in the rags-to-riches sense. He has lived a distinctly privileged life — going to all the best schools — and has had to take steps as an adult to put together a more marketable persona. Now, he's done that wonderfully effectively — but we need to see it for what it is.
But let's get back to Scher's perspective, that Obama's "we" is better than McCain's "I." Seeing yourself as a part of a tradition and accepting service and sacrifice within that tradition — that's not "we"? Devising a magnificent, marketable political persona — that's not "I"?