John McCain's first major television ad of the general election campaign is an apparent attempt to inoculate himself from criticism of his support of the Iraq War by underlining the fact that War Is Hell. New York Times reporter Julie Bosman used the opportunity (in the paper's regular Ad Campaign feature on Saturday) to suggest from out of nowhere that McCain had a "warmonger" reputation to live down.
If Mr. McCain has developed a reputation as a warmonger, with his strong support of the Iraq war and his campaign-trail jokes about bombing Iran (to the tune of the Beach Boys song "Barbara Ann"), this advertisement is an effort to smooth over that perception. It also puts the best possible spin on his support for the unpopular Iraq war, a position that could be a political liability in November. Drawing on the McCain family's history of military service sends the message that Mr. McCain is rich in experience and strong on national security, two areas that have formed the core of his argument against Senator Barack Obama.
The only "reputation as a warmonger" McCain has appears to be in the mind of liberal talk-radio host Ed Schultz, who called him that at a North Dakota fundraiser for Barack Obama in April.