Hey Democrats, Run this Ad.

So a very nice woman from the DFL calls the other night, asking for my help in the battle against those nefarious Republicans. Money help, you understand. Not any of my cheap deep thoughts about how to fight the bastards. And what do I do? … I go off on her. Maybe it’s the dog days of summer, maybe it’s seeing Eric Cantor’s face once too often in a given day, but there I am ranting crazy old three-day stubble geezer stuff at this (no doubt) unpaid volunteer, drinking bad coffee and working her way down a long list of “likely DFL voters”. (Think of that, the horror!)

I remember at least three uses of the word “hapless” in my rant, another demand to “at least get in the game” and various other indignant requests for her to tell me where the DFL party was when we needed a big Wisconsin-like rally out in front of the TV cameras to throw some pain in the faces of Kurt Zellers and Amy Koch as the shutdown loomed? It wasn’t my most dignified moment. If I were a classic Minnesota liberal I’d have said something like, “Well gosh, I just know that with my $50 you’ll talk some sense to those Tea Baggy people and we’ll get things all straightened out around here nice and tidy. Because, golly, I’m sure we’re all reasonable and want to do the best thing, don’t we?”

But I’m not (reasonable, about this stuff anymore). I didn’t give the DFL $50. In fact I think my last line was something like, “Call me back when you prove you can win something.”

So, guilty. Bastard-person. Crotchety, cranky, get-off-my-lawn, fast-slipping, borderline nutjob. Guilty.

But … being an old altar boy, after a day or two of marinating in guilt, I decided to become part of the solution and seek a kind of confessional renewal. So I created a TV ad that Democrats here and everywhere can have, free of charge, no royalties. All they have to do is play it twice a night in primetime and once on the late news in every Top 50 market in the country for, mmm, a month. Make it two months. After that I’ll cook up a new one.

Here’s the script:

Over a black screen … the Moog synthesizer solo from The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.

Fade In: That still of good old dotty Ronnie Reagan in his Burbank backlot cowboy hat.

(Chyron … “1980”)

Voice over. (Either Sam Elliott or Jeff Bridges. Or a Rush Limbaugh impersonator).

“Ronald Reagan runs for president, promising a balanced budget.”

(Chyron … “1981 – 1989”)
Under a fast montage of fired air traffic controllers, ludicrous Star Wars laser beams, the Nicaraguan contras, Ollie North, a happy looking Ayatollah Khomeini and Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein … )

(VO): “With support from congressional Republicans, Reagan runs enormous deficits, adds $2 trillion to the debt.”

(Chyron: “1993”) Another montage of Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, a pouting Newt Gingrich and a screen shot of the House vote totals for the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 …

(VO:) “Bill Clinton passes an economic plan that lowers the deficit. It gets zero votes from congressional Republicans. Not … one … vote.”

(Chyron: “1998”). Montage of stock market booming, McMansions, giant SUVs, Pamela Anderson …

(VO:) “The U.S. deficit disappears … for the first time in three decades. The national debt clock is unplugged.”

(Chyron: “2000”) Montage of Gore-Bush debates, “Brooks Brother rioters” storming election canvassers in Dade County, Dick Cheney …

(VO:) “George W. Bush runs for president, promising to maintain a balanced budget.”

(Chyron: “2001”) Montage of Antonin Scalia, Gore conceding, Bush inaugural motorcade being pelted with eggs …

(VO:) “The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office shows the United States is on track to pay off the entirety of its national debt — all of it — within a decade.”

(Chyron: “2001 – 2009”) Montage of Paul Wolfowitz, 9/11, “shock and awe”, Iraqi chaos, smiling Osama bin Laden, Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff and headlines of passage — by reconciliation — of a massive tax cut … ending with a sound clip of Dick Cheney saying, “Deficits don’t matter.”

(VO:) “Congressional Republicans agree. They approve huge new, ten-year tax cuts, two unbudgeted wars, and a Medicare expansion without even trying to pay for them. The effect is enormous deficits. Bush adds nearly $5 trillion to the debt.”

(Chyron: “2009”) Montage of Obama campaign, stock market cratering, Lehman Brothers bankrupt, McCain saying “the fundamentals of our economy are strong”, Sarah Palin winking, massive lay-offs and the inauguration …

(VO:) “Barack Obama inherits $1.3 trillion deficit from Bush and job losses of over 700,000 a month. Republicans immediately condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.”

(Chyron: “2009”) Montage of an unhappy looking Eric Cantor, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, health care town hall confrontations, FoxNews talking heads railing about “death panels” …

(VO:) “Obama pushes several domestic policy initiatives — primarily including health care reform — designed to get a grip on the most negative drags on the economy, which will also lower the deficit. The GOP opposes every facet of reform, while continuing to demand deficit reduction.”

(Chyron: “September 2010”) Montage of headlines of Republicans abusing Senate filibuster rule at an unprecedented rate, Tea Party “revolutionaries” with misspelled signs, GM and Chrysler coming back from government protection …

(VO:) “In Obama’s first fiscal year, the deficit he inherited from George W. Bush actually shrinks by $122 billion. Republicans nevertheless condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility and fight to maintain tax cuts for the very wealthy.

(Chyron: “October 2010”) Montage of signs of fledgling economic recovery … stimulus funds at work on roads, bridges, schools, laying fiber optic …

(VO:) “Standard & Poor’s reaffirms the nation’s AAA rating, saying the United States looks to be in solid fiscal shape for the foreseeable future.”

(Chron: “November 2010”) Montage of election disaster for Democrats. Smiling Mitch McConnell, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Eric Cantor …

(VO:) “Republicans win a U.S. House majority, citing the need for fiscal responsibility.”

(Chyron: “December 2010”) Montage of Republicans wielding power … more McConnell, Boehner, Cantor, Michele Bachmann, Joe “You Lie!” Wilson …

(VO:) “Congressional Republicans demand extension of the Bush tax cuts, which requires tremendous new deficits. Simultaneously they continue to accuse Obama of fiscal irresponsibility.”

(Chyron: “March 2011”) Montage of debt ceiling images … more Cantor, Bachmann, McConnell …

(VO:) “Congressional Republicans declare their intention to hold the faith and credit of the United States hostage — a move without precedent in American history.”

(Chyron: “July 2011”) Sound clip of Obama offering a $4 trillion debt-reduction package … .

(VO:) “Republicans refuse the deal, because it would close loop holes for corporate jet owners and oil companies. The self-inflicted debt ceiling crisis rattles international markets, adding to financial instability. But they blame Obama.”

(Chyron: “August 2011”) Montage of markets in turmoil …

(VO:) “Standard & Poor’s downgrades the U.S. credit rating citing Republican GOP refusal to consider new revenues. Republicans rejoice at “getting 98% of what I wanted” and blame Obama for fiscal irresponsibility.”

Sound up of Roger Daltrey’s scream … and fade to black.

* Thanks to Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly for the guts of this rant.

22 thoughts on “Hey Democrats, Run this Ad.

  1. Erik Peterson says:

    In the 80’s there was something of a conversational narrative for Jimmy Carter that went ‘good man, bad president’. And when you’d be talking politics at a party someone would say that and everyone would nod politely.

    Rather than ads, it’s probably time to start working on that shorthand narrative for the Obama term.

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    Length schmength. We’ll call it an infomercial, and promise a steak knife set to any buyers. I like it.

    The flat economy and volatile market makes it tough for Obama, no doubt about that. But he has a few things going for him: 1) a crappy opponent for appealing to swing voters, likely Cowboy Rick; 2) an opponent promising a Bushonomics reprise at a time when swing voters still largely blame Bush for the situation; 3) wars that are kinda sorta on the downswing and a couple of foreign policy successes (bin Laden and Libya); 4) a pretty solid record of policy accomplishments (the news media largely ignores them, but the campaign machinery will be able to highlight them more).

    Number 2 really perplexes me. Reverend Rick would be smart to at least put Bushonomics in camo, such as some kind of flat tax gimmickry. They need a new way to camouflage trickle down economics, and the flat tax would probably fool a lot of people.

  3. PM. says:

    here is an interesting update on swing state polling. Bottom line: Obama should be in trouble, except that there is no credible opposition that people like more.

    1. Obama’s personal popularity is so far ahead of any of the GOP candidates that when … the choice … has to be made he is well positioned to say, “Who do you trust more?” What I want him to say is “… me of the guys who created this mess and refuse to do anything to resolve it?”

  4. Joe Loveland says:

    I’m wit Mitt, because I think that would be the outcome most likely to prompt a Tea Party third party drive that would split the right in the General Election. But I just don’t see how Romney wins GOP primaries and caucuses, unless Bachmann, Paul and Perry split the extreme right wingers to the bitter end.

    Unfortunately, Republicans don’t tend to fight to the bitter end. They’ll get everyone to coalesce around the leader, probably the TX Governor pushing Bushonomics.

  5. Mike Kennedy says:

    PM….this is so true. If there were a decent candidate Mr. Obama would be in trouble. There isn’t at this point.

  6. Robb Mitchell says:

    I grow increasingly irritated with the pitiful appeals for money from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee that basically explain, “The fanatical Republicans are kicking our ass, please send more money.” Not a terribly appealing request. It’s nearly the equivalent of your college age kid writing home from road travels said, “I’ve been raped, robbed and spent all my money on weed, please send more money now” Not a wise investment in the future. And I get testy with DSCC also, trying to play the pity card and approach with palm up and extended. Congressional Democrats have as much control over the legislative process as Cantor, Boehner, McConnel and they have an ally in the White House. What’s all the crying about? Time to grow a pair.

  7. Paul Gerold says:

    Why not just get Ken Burns to make it into a documentary and air it on PBS? Why target the non-voter, reality television loving types who watch network TV?

  8. Love the ad, but you need a call to action. What do you want viewers to do? Send money to the DFL? Say mean things to the GOP? Vote for Dems?

    Also, I think this ad would take more than 28 1/2 seconds.

    I say, save this for the next election. We’ll need it then.

  9. No, don’t shorten it…just like the GOP, you have to learn to double-down on the drama instead of pulling back.

    So what you do now is begin the ad with some old sci-fi / horror scene where shackles come out of the arms of the chair pinning our hapless (don’t blame me, you put that word into my head) hero…then you crank up The Who…and for each negative message time period you segway back to our struggling hero in the chair…it you’re call on the ending, but I’m thinking he doesn’t make it…or maybe you can just have him looking depressed and comatose (like I look after seeing the latest kabuki political scene).

    In other related news…about 2009 I went off on some doorknocker from the AFLCIO who just wanted my name and $5 or such, but I made this likely-unpaid volunteer take my message back to the honchos that the union needed to pull their money out of damned Wall Street if they ever wanted my freaking $5 again, because this was after the bailout and I wasn’t in the mood for even a union bankster to hold my tiny bit of hard-earned cash.

    But I didn’t feel badly enough about that rant to write (Brian, you over-achiever) the ad…in hindsight, I wish I had since it was months before WI where unions finally woke the hell up.

  10. Newt says:

    I have a much shorter GOP ad:

    Obama signing his 1,700-page Obamacare Act with Dem leaders standing around applauding, then a quick fade to Pelosi saying, “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.”

    Then a montage of headlines showing how healthcare coverage is being dropped by employers and costs and the deficit are skyrocketing.

    Game over.

    Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoE1R-xH5To

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      What Speaker Pelosi said was “…so YOU can find out what is in it,” not, as you claimed, “to find out what is in it,” which implies that she and her colleagues didn’t know what was in the bill they had been crafting for months.

      Moreover, after the abrupt ending of the propaganda video clip you obediently swallowed, Pelosi went on to finish the sentence “…away from the fog of the controversy.”

      And the “you” in front of Pelosi at the time were county government officials who were largely unfamiliar with the bill.

      In other words, if you actually take the time to learn the content and context of the Speaker’s comment, she was telling county officials that the claims they had heard about the bill during debate were untrue, and that they would see that once the bill was enacted.

      Why not make your argument on the merits instead of needing to use a funhouse mirror version of the truth?

  11. Joe Loveland says:

    I like the Sullenberger metaphor that one of the Crowd used a while back. Maybe that could be the metaphor to crystallize voters’ big picture choice. An ad something like this:

    “America cheered when pilot Sully Sullenberger landed his passengers safely on the Hudson River. Yes, the passengers were not where they wanted to be.

    But the pilot’s steady hand prevented a disaster.

    And when President Obama inherited a Bush economy spiraling out of control, Obama acted decisively to end the recession and prevent a meltdown.

    Yes, the economy is not yet where anyone wants it to be. But President Obama’s steady hand prevented a disaster.

    Now, there’s a new pilot who wants to take the controls (photo of Perry). The new pilot wants to use the same Bush flight plan that originally caused the economic crash. (photo of Perry morphing into Bush, superimposed with “Extend Bush tax cuts for wealthy. Go back to Bush-era Wall Street ‘rules.'”)

    All aboard?”

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