The presidential campaign immediately became boring yesterday when a quip by candidate Barack Obama caused the two campaigns to start cribbing one another's playbooks. Here's how it went down:
• Last October, when asked about Hillary Clinton's health plan, John McCain said it looked similar to the plan she drafted while her husband was president. "I think they put some lipstick on a pig," he said, using a common expression. "But it's still a pig."
• Yesterday, in Lebanon, Virginia, during a stump speech, Barack Obama used the line while describing the policies of the GOP. "You know, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," he said. "You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called 'change.' It's still gonna stink after eight years. We've had enough of the same old thing! It's time to bring about real change to Washington."
• The press goes nuts, pointing out that Sarah Palin made a joke about lipstick in her acceptance speech at the RNC. "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?" she cracked. "Lipstick." Now, according to the media and the McCain camp, no one is ever allowed to reference lipstick again.
• The McCain camp summons its go-to emotion, mock outrage, calling the comment "offensive and disgraceful," and a "pathetic attempt to play the gender card." (Sound familiar? They used nearly the exact same rhetoric yesterday over comments David Paterson made about GOP mockery of Obama's community-organizing experience. Except it's kind of the opposite, because they're accusing Obama of being sexist, not vice versa.)
• The Obama camp responds with mock outrage of their own, using phrasing that could have been written by Steve Schmidt himself. "Enough is enough. The McCain campaign's attack tonight is a pathetic attempt to play the gender card about the use of a common analogy — the same analogy that Senator McCain himself used about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care plan just last year," said Obama senior adviser Anita Dunn. "This phony lecture on gender sensitivity is the height of cynicism and lays bare the increasingly dishonorable campaign John McCain has chosen to run."
With all this mock outrage and spin over nothing, it's soon going to be impossible to tell the candidates apart. But did you notice how amidst all of that hubbub, Anita Dunn slipped the term "dishonorable" in there, regarding McCain? Obama spokesman Bill Burton did the same thing yesterday regarding a misleading attack ad by John McCain over Obama's voting record on sex education. "Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn't define what honor was," he said. "Now we know why."
First McCain says Obama played the gender card, and then Obama says McCain played the gender card for saying Obama played the gender card. Now Obama is saying McCain is dishonorable. It's only a matter of time before McCain calls Obama dishonorable for calling McCain dishonorable.
Thank goodness this election is about the issues — otherwise we'd have no idea who to vote for.