The McCain campaign enters Sweeps Week
Television Sweeps (definition):Sweeps are periods used by the television networks to determine advertising rates for the quarter, based on ratings. Regular programming also tends to include more frequent guest stars and plot twists in an attempt to drive up ratings. News programs often save sensational stories for sweeps. For this reason, the "sweeps" system of national ratings has been criticized as not representative of typical programming, and encouraging an increase in content of concern such as violence and explicit sexuality. It is long the haven of stunt programming designed to breathe momentary life into an established series.
With John McCain trailing in national polls, and seemingly losing ground by the day as the totality of the economic crisis becomes apparent, his advisors are apparently cooking up an event (see here and here) that would make any television network executive proud. According to several news reports, the McCain campaign is hoping for an October "shotgun wedding" between Bristol Palin, 17, and her beau, Levi Johnston, 17. Now, I'm all in favor of wedded bliss. If these two genuinely love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together--on their terms and their timetable--God bless them. I mean that.
But these articles seem to insinuate that the potential wedding will be one thing, and one thing only: a ploy by the McCain-Palin ticket to tug on the heartstrings of average Americans (aka undecided voters), blinding their fears about the economy and the war on terror with lovely staged photographs of two young political pawns. Yes, pawns. Because if this wedding does take place for any reason other than these two wanting to share their lives in wedded bliss when they are ready to do so, then I sincerely hope every undecided voter sees for themselves just what a sham the McCain campaign has become. With Sarah "I’ll try to find you some and I’ll bring 'em to ya" Palin and a campaign suspension that was shorter-lived than a Jerry O'Connell sitcom, it is becoming increasingly obvious that with their polls numbers tanking the GOP ticket is looking to do anything--literally, anything--to increase goodwill among voters. Even if it's a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.
If the McCain campaign pushes this wedding for the reasons that are currently being cited, they would be turning what should be a private and joyful ceremony into a shameless and shameful political ploy. Notice how the reports say "the expectation is growing" that the two will get hitched. They're not hoping for a wedding for the happiness of the children. They're hoping the wedding will give the campaign "a fresh round of publicity" for the sake of their political futures.
I give Meghan McCain credit. She is unashamedly campaigning for her father, trying to encourage the youth vote by relating to those voters in a way neither her father (nor Barack Obama) can. She is honest about her motives, and is not being used by the system. She is aware of her place and wants to use whatever status and celebrity she has to help her father. Her efforts are completely transparent, and she does what she wants on her terms.
If Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston want to marry in October because their hearts are set on it, I wish them nothing but happiness and a healthy child. But when a McCain insider asks, "What's the downside?" to a wedding, if that wedding is anything but 100% sincere I hope the downside is every American realizing that the Republican ticket is not entering the home stretch of the campaign, but rather artificially padding their anemic lineup for sweeps week.