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 MoveOn.org 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).