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Karl Rove's multi-billion-dollar superPAC and Karl Rove enriching machine American Crossroads has been running a series of more-in-sorrow ads against President Obama giving voters permission to vote against him.

The "He tried, we tried" one and the new one with the disappointed young woman who feels let down, swindled by promises unkept.

The ads eschew direct attacks and scary music, instead throwing a consoling arm over the shoulder of disillusioned Obama voters. "It's okay," we're told. "You gave it a shot."

It's a decent tactic, reasonably innovative and I'm sure it's garnered some "sweets" from Karl's fellow policonsultants and justified his generous rakeoffs from the gazillions dropped by his billionaire contributors. Heck, I'll tip my own hat, amateur propagandist that I am.

But there is a really ill undertone to these clever ads. Viewers are not only being given permission to vote for a different "change." They're being praised for their (sadly misguided) open-mindedness and given permission to close those minds again.

It's okay. You proved you're not racist. You voted for the black guy, remember?

Now it's time to maybe put aside this, um, experimental phase you've been going through. Let's get back to normal now. Back to the way things have always been. You know, where the "right" people are in charge.

You were quite noble to try and transcend the old prejudices and stereotypes. We really admire your idealism. You're probably better people than we.

But your grand experiment didn't really work out. Right now, let's settle down and go with what's worked in the past. Maybe we'll try your idea again someday. Later.

The ads are subtle and insidious, wrapped in praise of white voters' goodness of heart, but, at its core, the message is clear: "those people" aren't quite ready yet. Let's get back to the natural order and let things settle down for a bit.


Maybe I read too much into these things. (That has been suggested in these pages quite recently). Maybe these are just some sharp ads by a real slickie boy champ in the flack field.

But why do I feel like I'm being asked to turn my head and come on home, away from scary, dark downtown? The authorities are coming in to clean this up and dad wants to shield me from the ugly events to follow. He doesn't want to shatter my beautiful, youthful idealism by making me watch the less-than-lovely details of putting things to right.

As I say, it's likely I'm suffering from political-ad apophenia, but I can't shake it. There is a smell coming from these ostensibly friendly spots that is old and familiar and terribly, terribly ugly.  

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