Aug 21, 201211:05 AMLeft Business Brain
with Tom Breuer
Critiquing the candidates’ TV ads
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen nearly enough political advertising in the last few weeks. I just wish there was some mass medium through which candidates for public office could let us know about their opponents’ shortcomings.
Winston Churchill once quipped, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other(s).” Clearly, Churchill was never forced to listen to Mark Neumann at 6:05 a.m. on a Monday.
Still, Churchill was right. Enduring political offal is just one of the sacrifices we make as citizens of a free democracy. That and fighting fascism, communism, and tyranny. Hmm, getting bayonetted by a raging, syphilitic Redcoat/being forced to hear Mark Neumann talk before I’ve had my coffee. I think every generation has bravely carried the torch of freedom in its own way, wouldn’t you say?
Fortunately, through the magic of YouTube, you no longer have to wait 30 to 60 seconds for the next brilliantly incisive political ad to appear. You can watch it whenever you want.
Here’s just a sampling of some of the candidates’ recent offerings:
Okay, what the hell is Tommy on in this video? He’s acting like he just freebased meth with the New Christy Minstrels. This ad’s official title is “Transform,” but a better one would be “Hi, I’m Tommy Thompson, and I’m Not Old.”
Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice to see a positive ad for a change, but I worry that Tommy’s trying just a bit too hard to be upbeat and macho. I keep waiting for him to point aggressively at the camera and call Eric Hovde a jabroni. You still have to wrestle Tammy, Tommy. Don’t break a hip.
Speaking of trying too hard to be macho:
In this ad, Tommy brags that he will be the 51st vote to appeal Obamacare. To prove his point, he rides around on a Harley while a guy who sounds like he does amateur Wrangler Jeans commercials narrates.
Part of the reason Americans spend more on health care than everyone else in the world is we do stupid things like eat pizzas that are roughly 98% cheese product by volume, ride motorcycles on dangerous rural roads without a helmet, and refuse to buy health insurance.
Tommy Thompson, a former secretary of Health and Human Services, wants you to be free to do at least two of those things. He doesn’t just want you to be free to do them, he celebrates your freedom to do them.
So if you fall off your motorcycle and are uninsured (because Tommy Thompson has singlehandedly repealed Obamacare and made it seem irresistibly cool to cruise through Hayward without a helmet), you will be hauled to the emergency room and treated for free. And who will take care of you after your head injuries basically turn you into a poor man’s Gary Busey? Most likely the government.
For some reason, this is a central pillar of the conservative’s modern utopia.
In this ad, elegantly titled “We Did Build It,” Mark Neumann resurrects the Obama “you didn’t build that” meme. Of course, this manufactured controversy has been debunked ad nauseam, but conservatives keep using it for the same reason Weekly World News kept writing about Bat Boy: For some stupid reason, it sells.
If you’re still dredging up this old chestnut, you’re either willfully ignorant, dishonest, running for office, or all of the above.
I have no idea which Mark Neumann is. (Though I do know he’s running for office. He’s always running for office.)
In the following ad, “Mark Neumann: Conservative Before It Was Cool,” Neumann says, “Our grandkids will grow old paying for Barack Obama’s debt.”
Incidentally (and this isn’t necessarily a knock on Neumann, who appears to be a longtime deficit hawk), I’m continually amused by the fact that conservatives never really considered our debt to be much of a problem until it was caused in part by infrastructure investment instead of by unfunded wars and upper-class tax cuts. Back in ’03, you couldn’t so much as suggest that we shouldn’t be starting an expensive war that had nothing to do with 9/11 without being called an appeaser and a traitor. Now the president wants to fill in some potholes and suddenly he’s Che Guevara.
So why is it Obama’s debt? Because he’s president right now, and if there’s one thing Americans are good at, it’s forgetting history.
Which brings us to ...
Just last week, I argued that Eric Hovde was the best choice among the Republican U.S. Senate candidates because of his outspoken criticism of Wall Street. But that doesn’t mean he’s above engaging in the same sort of flabby rhetoric as his opponents.
In his ad “Something Different,” he says, “President Obama has America on a financial cliff with spending and debt.”
Now, conservatives love nothing more than to squeal whenever anyone brings up George W. Bush. He hasn’t been president for almost four years! That was nine seasons of Dancing with the Stars ago! When will you liberals let it go already?
Unfortunately, there’s no getting around it: If President Obama really does have us on a financial cliff, it’s George W. Bush and Wall Street greedheads who pushed him there.
First of all, the financial crisis, which as Hovde himself notes was caused by Wall Street insiders, clobbered government tax receipts, and this is one of the biggest reasons for our high deficit. That happened on Bush’s watch. Obama has failed to bring the economy all the way back, but it was so thoroughly deflated, that’s not really surprising.
Of course, Mitt Romney, who is cribbing from the standard Republican playbook (which says we should cut taxes on the rich further and use a light touch when it comes to regulating industry) is now criticizing Obama for not cleaning up the mess left by his predecessor fast enough.
Make no mistake about it, this is the crux of Romney’s message: Things aren’t improving quickly enough in the aftermath of the ruinous policies of George W. Bush, so let’s go back to those policies.
And finally ...
This ad was positive and affirming, and no doubt led a lot of 2nd District denizens to believe that the race for Tammy Baldwin’s open seat would be marked by probity and gentility:
Then Roys went on the attack:
Oh, say it ain’t so, Kelda. Better luck next time.