Friday, June 25, 2004

An anti-Bush ad at...

Wow. Go watch this video (Windows Media Player only). Some of the odd things in this video:

  • It includes images of Hitler in the ad, without explaining why they’re in there. (The images are from one of the many ads contributed to the MoveOn Super Bowl ad contest. Though the ad itself caused a stir at the time, it should be noted it was not actually created by MoveOn, nor did it win any awards. That hasn’t stopped the Bush campaign from airing it repeatedly over the last six months, which raises the question: what’s worse? A hack using Hitler in an ad? Or a campaign ceaselessly running the hack’s video in an attempt to show how offended they are by the hack’s video?)

  • At no time does it explain why the clips of individuals (Al Gore, Dick Gephardt, Howard Dean, Michael Moore) are bad, or why they should lead one to vote for George Bush. The ad lamely ends with an attempt at comparing the rage voiced by those individuals with the “optimism” shown by Bush. If they’re so optimistic, why not talk about what they’re optimistic about? For more on this “optimism” canard, go read Oliver Willis’s comments.

  • The ad actually lays out much of the left’s argument against Bush, and the ad does nothing to counter those arguments. (Gephardt: “This president is a miserable failure.” Moore: “This man led us into a war for fictitious reasons.” Dean: “I want my country back.” Gore: “How dare they drag the good name of the United States through Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers in Abu Ghraib?”) If any of those charges strike you as mildly on target (which, according to the latest polls, is a majority of the country), then you’re not going to be swayed by the platitude at the end of the ad.

  • By interjecting the now famous Hitler ad, the Bush/Cheney ad twice shows Bush in sieg-heil poses, following images of Hitler, and once with English subtitles and Hitler speaking German in the background. Memo to the Bush/Cheney camp: Never, ever show your candidate with a Hitler voice-over. Trust me on this. I suppose the logic here is that the viewer is supposed to understand that it’s the MoveOn people who are so deranged as to compare Bush to Hitler, but that seems a bit subtle for most. Maybe I’m wrong — watch it, and let me know if you think so. This is “I know you are but what am I?” in a presidential ad. No, really.

  • Playing a George Winston-wannabe in the background and throwing “Optimism, steady leadership and progress” on screen do not a warm feeling make. (Reminds me of a Simpsons episode.) After being accused of lying, failing, threatening the lives of Americans, prostrating himself to the Religious Right, encouraging torture… the best they can come up with is, what exactly? Piano? I don’t get it.

Now, in the interest of being fair, the righteous indignation over at the Kerry blog is, well, a little silly. That Bush used the Hitler imagery in his ad is goofy — especially when they were trying to say that it was the left that used Hitler in their ads. So what Kerry’s argument boils down to is this: how dare Bush use Hitler imagery that got from a contributor that tried to show how bad Bush was in an ad attacking me? (No, it doesn’t make much sense to me either.) Bush wasn’t comparing Kerry to Hitler. He was comparing Hitler to, um, Bush. I think.

Is there a Godwin’s Law for political advertising?

Update: Good discussion on this issue at OxBlog, Now That Everyone Else Has One, Steve’s No Direction Home Page, Pandagon, Basket Full of Puppies, and The Lullaby That Keeps You Up At Night (who points out the e-mail the Bush campaign sent out agreeing with the Kerry campaign’s outrage, which, if you’re keeping score, makes this: Bush agrees with Kerry, who’s outraged at Bush’s ad, which is outraged at the Democrats, who are outraged with Bush).


  1. Rick,

    I am no expert on campaign finance laws but that ad seems to be missing the mandatory tag-line, "I'm George Bush and I approved this message."

    It would sure be too bad if the FEC fined BC'04 for a few thousand dollars when Kerry is kicking their butts in fundraising. Yes, it would be too bad.

    -- Justin

  2. I'm pretty sure that that ad has changed from when I first heard about this a few days ago - I don't remember the text at the beginning about "John Kerry had denounced this ad", and the text attributing the Hitler bits to (And of course, attributed just to, and not a 'entry to a contest that wasn't picked'.)

  3. This reminds me of a critical story NBC did on Ronald Reagan. They showed pictures of him in all these different places and then compared his record to his rhetoric. It was quite damning. They then asked Deaver or someone to respond and the person loved it--great pictures. Nobody would remember the text.

    It seems to me that this is the reverse story.

  4. The Bush-Hitler commercial

    I'm not sure I get the Bush Commercial This reminds me of a critical story NBC did on Ronald Reagan. They showed pictures of him in all these different places and then compared his record to his rhetoric. It was...

  5. John Kerry rightfully called the use of Hitler in campaign ads "wrong". What he fails to mention is the fact that Al Gore is a frequent guest speaker for, the organization which hosted the Hitler ad on its site for some period of time. Whether or not it was selected to run on television in front of a U.S.-only audience, is a moot point for the simple fact that it ran on the internet for the world to see. The medium they chose actually had a bigger audience than it would have had being on television. Think about it.

    As for laying out the Left's argument, I think you miss the point. The focus is on the delivery of the message, not the message itself. If the left has a legitimate beef with Bush, why not sound reasonable and articulate? Why the need for off-the-wall incessant screaming that will make the average voter think, "what a kook"?

    Finally, think of who the ad is targeted towards....(other than GOP members). One of the biggest blocs of Democrat voters is the Jewish vote. By showing the reaction of the Left as condoning the Hitler images and even excusing them (as you did in your blog), it may give a few of those voters the push they need to switch.

    Just my opinion. I do find it pretty funny that on, they issued a press release claiming outrage at the use of Hitler in an ad, when in fact, the GOP is simply replaying ads from the Left.

  6. ---As for laying out the Left's argument, I think you miss the point.

    No, you miss the point. In fact, you perfectly miss the point. Images create impressions often more than words, the impression one gets from that commercial due to its editing is that Bush is all those bad things. The Hitler to Bush fades are particularly bad editing if the point is to make Bush look good.

    In regard to the MoveOn commercials, the were submissions, not actual MoveOn commercials. They were voted down and were never used and MoveOn implemented better screening to avoid such problems. Perhaps Kerry could denounce the specific individuals who made it, but if that is the standard any Presidential Candidate will be denouncing people for most of his day.

    Now, who condoned the original Hitler ads? No one. But it is a nice fictional story to keep spreading.

  7. >>>>>>>>
    "Perhaps Kerry could denounce the specific individuals who made it"

    So instead he hired Zack Exley - the man responsible for encouraging the production of these ads as part of a MoveOn contest - to run the Kerry campaign's internet operation.

    "Now, who condoned the original Hitler ads? No one. But it is a nice fictional story to keep spreading."

    Sure, fictional. I know you'll never admit it fits a pattern the Left has engaged in, but to refresh your memory, let's see a few examples:

    Al Gore compared the Bush Administration to the Nazis saying, "The Administration works closely with a network of 'rapid response' digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for 'undermining support for our troops.'"

    Al Gore, in May, spoke of "Bush's Gulag"?

    Democrat Party donor George Soros compared the Bush Administration to Nazis when he stated, "When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans. It conjures up memories of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit ('The enemy is listening')."

    And of course, who could forget Michael Moore who, last October, compared the Patriot Act to Mein Kampf. "The Patriot Act is the first step. 'Mein Kampf' - 'Mein Kampf' was written long before Hitler came to power."

    No, this isn't some fictional story or vast right wing conspiracy, it's an ad that has pointed out just how crazed the extreme Left has become.

    And I'm not real concerned with the impact of the images, considering this is an ad being distributed to subscribers of Bush-Cheney listserv and anyone else wanting to see it will be visiting the Bush-Cheney website to see it.

  8. ---So instead he hired Zack Exley - the man responsible for encouraging the production of these ads as part of a MoveOn contest - to run the Kerry campaign's internet operation.

    How did Zach Exley encourage the ads involving Hitler. Given MoveON then instituted better screening and took them down, wouldn't that mean he discouraged them? Your logic is bizarre.

    As to the rest of your post, you fail to admit the MoveOn story you are peddling is a lie.

  9. What's weird here is that after being confronted on the specific issue you are now trying to move it on to side issues such as Soros, Gore and Moore, none of whom I defended. I said you were misrepresenting MoveON and you did. If you want to say the three of them were guilty of rhetorical excess you'd be right in the case of two of them--Gore and Moore and I'd say in Soros' case he is critiquing the notion that one can't dissent from this administration. If that is couched in his personal experience it's a bit different than the others.

    More to the point, I was addressing your factual inaccuracies in relation to MoveON.