There Can Only Be "One"

A campaign blog.
Oct. 7 2008 11:30 PM

There Can Only Be "One"

In the beginning, there was "The One." Now, thanks to an off-hand comment in tonight’s debate, there’s "that one." The result: One "one" cancels the other "One" out.

McCain was discussing a 2005 energy bill "loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney . You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one ," he said, indicating Obama. "You know who voted against it? Me."

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The Obama camp immediately blasted out a one-liner to reporters: "Did John McCain just refer to Obama as ' t hat o ne’?" In an otherwise forgettable debate, that’s already become the moment, with Obama campaign manager David Plouffe suggesting it reflects McCain’s "anger" and lumping it in with his refusal to look Obama in the eye last debate.

Which is, of course, utterly silly. "That one" is good-natured towel-snapping—another way of saying, Get a load of this guy . Anyone who knows how McCain talks knows this. He was joshing around. It wasn’t particularly funny—but it wasn’t mean-spirited either.

It could still matter, though. McCain’s campaign has had a good chuckle dubbing Obama " The One ," a tweak at the worshipful way some fans treat him. (And, some believe, a hint that he’s the Antichrist .) They’re still laughing, too. Just today, the McCain camp issued novelty cufflinks with a mock presidential seal on one side—a jab at Obama’s campaign seal—and "The One" engraved on the other.

But "that one" could mean the end of "The One." Now, every time Team McCain resurrects their favorite moniker, Team Obama need only reply, Sorry, which one? Oh, you mean "THAT one."

It’s a dumb response, but then again, it’s a dumb attack. After all, it takes one to know one.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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