The Washington Times - July 30, 2008, 12:38PM

After weeks of whispering by pundits, John McCain’s campaign makes the explicit charge: “Do the American people want to elect the world’s biggest celebrity, or do they want to elect an American hero?”

A new ad from the McCain campaign puts up images of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Barack Obama, and tells voters to judge Obama in that light.

The ad seems to try to be funny and brutal at the same time, and falls short on both — but it also plays beautifully into the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got. In a world where people can be famous for being famous (Hilton is a premier example of that), there’s no better way of getting People magazine (which recently did a full cover piece on the Obama family) to chase itself than to tell it what celebrityhood entails.

So what about the specific comparisons to Spears and Hilton, both of whom are often covered in a salacious light, and never for anything serious?

“Apples to apples,” said McCain campaign manager Rick Davis on a conference call with reporters. “Just because you’re a celebrity doesn’t mean you’re ready to lead.”

Stephen Dinan, national political correspondent, The Washington Times