Restocking Woodstock

Somebody should tell John McCain that it isn’t 2007 anymore. McCain’s campaign announced today that they’re recycling a Woodstock-themed ad that first ran in New Hampshire last October . Predictably, it’s terribly outdated.

Here’s the basic gist of the ad , which pulls footage from a Fox News debate: McCain says Hillary wanted to earmark $1 million for a Woodstock concert museum; McCain makes a poignant quip about not going to Woodstock because he was “tied up” at the time; roll footage of McCain on a bed as a POW; standing ovation; McCain says sinister earmarkers like Clinton shouldn’t be president; John McCain approves this message. 

Here’s the problem: The ad comes from a long-ago epoch when Hillary Clinton was the inevitable Democratic nominee, Fred Thompson was still a major player, and McCain still symbolized a failed candidacy more than a rejuvenated war hero.

The election has matured quite a bit since then, even if the level of discourse hasn’t. Originally, the ad used Clinton as a prop to show that John McCain isn’t afraid of the Clinton machine. But that’s not the situation on the ground anymore. Now that Obama short-circuited Hillary, the Republicans have to run against all Democrats, not just Clinton. 

Considering how old the ad is, there must be a reason why McCain is recycling it. A working theory: The segment touches on the economy (wasted government spending) while still hyping McCain’s national security credentials. For McCain, who doesn’t like to pander on economic issues, hyping his commitment to curtailing pork-barrel projects is the smartest way to address the growing economic concern in the country.

The original ad didn’t stay on the air very long in New Hampshire. Fox News sent a cease-and-desist letter to McCain’s camp saying it doesn’t allow debate footage in political advertisements. That prompted McCain to redo the ad and release a different version . The new South Carolina ad is an exact replica of the first Woodstock ad, just without the Fox News logo onscreen. This seems like a curious and not-so-kosher way to get around the cease and desist issue.  

The McCain campaign and Fox News haven’t returned requests for comment.