By election day 1996, people were joking: "hey, did you know that Bob Dole was injured in WWII?" because he had overused it in the course of the campaign. What was the ultimate patriotic trump card to use against a draft-dodging Democrat and his uppity feminist wife had become a punchline by Election Day. Dole lost in a landslide.
And how many people rolled their eyes when John Kerry said "reporting for duty" at the 2004 DNC? I did, and I was one of his supporters! Need I remind anyone of the RNC purple heart bandaids?
And you may not have heard, but Rudy Giuliani was mayor on 9/11.
At this point in the campaign, before he's even been officially nominated at the RNC, we've already seen McCain use the POW defense for not knowing how many houses he has, ditching his disabled wife for a hot, young, rich, blonde USC cheerleader, having a shitty health care plan, breaking the rules of the Saddleback forum, and a whole host of others. Those don't include the old hits, like when he used the POW defense during his first House race to counter accusations that he was a carpetbagger, or when he invoked the Hanoi Hilton to shield him from the Keating 5 scandal.
And the press is starting to notice. What was once a ridiculous chorus of buffoons perpetually invoking John McCain's "reticence" to discuss his POW experience has recently morphed into a litany of articles expressing "concern" that McCain is cheapening his experience (and, let's not forget, the experiences of all those who suffered in POW camps).
And last night, Rachel Maddow exposed it to primetime MSNBC viewers:
She's going to be good.
Meanwhile, you may have seen McCain whip out the POW defense most recently on Leno. That was his 13th appearance on the Tonight Show. I didn't watch; does anyone know if he accused Obama of being a celebrity while he was there?