Jeffrey LewisUCS Convention Ads

The Union of Concerned Scientists has placed ads in the Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver airports, calling on Senators Obama and McCain to “get serious about reducing the nuclear threat.” Above is a picture of the ad on display in Minneapolis. (The one in Denver says “Senator Obama: It Is Time to Get Serious About Reducing the Nuclear Threat”)

Northwest Airlines has asked Clear Channel to remove the ad, calling it a strong anti-McCain message. (Click here for coverage from the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Minneapolis Star-Tribune.)

The delicious irony is that, of course, McCain has said that “the time has come to renew” our commitment “to move toward nuclear disarmament” and that “We do not need all the weapons currently in our arsenal.”

By calling the ad — which merely makes a point McCain himself has made — an “attack ad,” Northwest Airlines implicitly suggests that Senator McCain was not sincere in his comments. By contrast, no one viewed the identical advertisement in Denver, addressed to Senator Obama, as an attack.

Oh, did I mention that Northwest is the official airline of the Republican National Convenion?


  1. Page van der Linden (History)

    Regardless of what Obama and McCain have said about reducing the arsenal, etc., I still love the ads. But maybe I’m thinking too hard, like “that ad is saying ‘keep your word when you’re elected’…” Eh, nuance. Whatever. It’s late where I am.

    Regarding NWA being the official RNC airline, I did not know that. There must be a mocking blog post in there someplace.

  2. Joseph Logan (History)

    Methinks the gentleman draws a long bow in this post. I imagine Northwest is overly sensitive to anything they perceive as remotely scandalous in that typical sort of reactionary, pusillanimous corporate way. It’s a bit of a stretch, though, to assume that Northwest Airlines has deep insight into McCain’s inner views on nuclear policy. It’s also natural that Northwest would be the official airline of the RNC simply because Minneapolis is their big hub; they very likely struck this alliance because they are the airline with the most frequent flights into the twin cities rather than overtly supporting a political view. United is the DNCC’s airline for presumably the same reasons. Portraying the ads as anti-McCain probably springs from not knowing the ads were in Denver and failing to consider the message and how it squares with the candidates’ views.

    It all seems a lot more corporate than political. Removing the sign is a thoughtless move, but it doesn’t seem all that sinister. I can understand USA Today readers interpreting it that way, though.

  3. Ward (History)

    I had coffee recently with a guy who did a lot of negotiating about nuclear weapons. He pointed out that the McCain statement (which I was quite impressed by) sounded a lot like the statement Bush made in 2000 (which also sounded quite good at the time.) He said they ought to sound alike, “Henry wrote them both.”

    I don’t know anything about McCain’s sincerity on nuclear weapons, but it’s worth pointing out that the Bush statement did not lead to significant accomplishments in the nuclear weapons field.

  4. davod (History)

    The US has reduced its arsenal considerably since Bush took office. The US also pays millions each year to Russia to help reduce its arsenal and employ its scientists on non-nuclear tasks.

  5. Stephen Young (History)

    An update – Clear Channel, the ad placement agency, has apparently, at its own initiative, pulled the billboard in Denver as well. UCS is now considering legal options.

  6. FSB

    Freedom of speech my ass! Everyday we are getting closer to the ex-soviets.

    Clear channel are the dudes behind Rush dumbass Limbaugh and they have done this before

    Oh, and before that too

    ……….and, so on

    But this is great — make it news that the Clear Channel is shutting you down!…and get free publicity!

  7. FSB

    Fearmongering is only OK when the republican/neocons do it about things not really that scary.

    When a non-partisan group shows something actually frickin scary as sh*t — then we need to pull the billboards — NOW!

    Next we won’t be showing any images of our dead heroes returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in coffins…oh, sorry, the neocons don’t allow that already…..

  8. Stephen Young (History)

    Updated update: The NY Times decided to cover the story both online and in print – you can see the print version at:

    While we would prefer the story to focus on the message of our ads, the Clear Channel angle, you might say, interesting.