My local Congressional race has a hotly contested Democratic primary next Tuesday to pick who will run against 1st term Republican incumbent, Bob Dold, in November. A deceptive, Karl Rove style attack ad (attack your opponent's strengths) came out of the Brad Schneider campaign today, and landed with the warm, moist, steaming, dull plop that signifies what it truly is.
Mr. Schneider is a favorite of austerity hawks like Minority Leader Steny Hoyer and Wall Street enablers like former IL Rep. Melissa Bean. Politically, Schneider is basically a moderate Republican, or would be if the species hadn't gone extinct. He is pro choice, somewhat tolerant of reasonable regulations, and willing to let Bush's tax cuts for the top earners expire. He is wealthy, partly self funded and otherwise financially supported by rather small numbers of rather large donors.
Mr. Schneider is not so pro-choice that he will withhold his support from rabidly anti-choice Republicans if he deems them sufficiently pro-Israel, including Republicans like Utah Senator Robert Bennett, Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns, Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers and Minnesota Congressman Mark Kennedy. Mr. Schneider is also not sufficiently a Democrat to always support Democrats in local elections, having once pulled a Republican primary ballot to vote for a "friend". Mr. Sheyman has been pointing out these facts, all of which are completely true, to the voters. Having no defense on the facts, Mr. Schneider now pounds on the table and shouts "Liar!", in this new TV ad:
Here is a transcript:
Who is Ilya Sheyman?Let's parse this ad, starting with the key, featured word, "bogus". Please continue reading.
He's funded by out of state special interests.
He can't win on his record, so he's spreading lies about true progressive Brad Schneider.
Attacks so absurd that the Tribune called them bogus.
Democrat Brad Schneider. Supported by Melissa Bean, Julio Hamos and Susan Garrett for being pro choice.
Endorsed by the Daily Herald and the Tribue.
Show Sheyman and his allies we don't like being lied to.
The Chicago Tribune, a Republican paper, did indeed endorse Mr. Schneider and, in so doing did use the word, "bogus". But the Tribune did not use the word in it's usual meaning, signifying falsehood, as Mr. Schneider's new ad uses it. What the Tribune really said was that they thought it unfair of Mr. Sheyman to call out his opponent for the contribution record because the Tribune's editors think its OK for Democrats to support Republicans.
He's taken some heat for donating to some of Republican Mark Kirk's congressional campaigns, but this is a bogus complaint. It's a testament to Schneider's independence that on other occasions he contributed to Kirk's opponents. Federal Election Commission records suggest Schneider has found common ground with a wide range of candidates — Nancy Pelosi, anyone? — just like the voters he'd represent.The Tribune never suggested that Mr. Schneider hasn't donated and voted exactly as Mr. Sheyman has reported. The Tribune said nothing about anybody lying about anything. This is the ad's first Rovian attack to the strength of Mr. Sheyman's campaign calling Schneider out over his contribution history: When your opponent damages you with the truth, claim he is lying.
The Second Rove-style attack in this ad is designed to make one of the opponent's strengths look weak. This has acquired the rubric "swift boating". In this case it is the assertion "He's funded by out of state special interests." The germ of fact this comes from is actually an enormous Sheyman asset: 16000+ small donors (in your dreams, Brad), though they consist largely of out of district people. These are progressively minded Democrats all over the country who recognize the value of electing a more progressive Congress. The special interest part of Mr. Schneider's attack comes from the fact that many of those donors learned of Mr. Sheyman's campaign through MoveOn.org, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America and other national progressive organizations. The support of these people and organizations represent an enormous strength and are testament to Mr. Sheyman's extraordinary organizational and campaigning skill in preparation for a tough General Election campaign. Hence, the ad must attack Mr. Sheyman about this.
The third attack, "He can't run on his record" is a Rovian trifecta, simultaneously trying to falsely burnish Mr. Schneider's weak claim to be a lifelong progressive while at the same time attacking Mr. Sheyman's unblemished record as a committed, hard working, fighting progressive with a record of actual achievement for progressive causes. By contrast, Mr. Schneider has spent most of his lifetime as a rising business careerist with a taste for, mostly, pro-Israel politics, a history of, mostly, supporting Democratic politicians, though never the most progressive choice, and a pattern of lending support to charitable organizations. All decent enough uses of Mr. Schneider's life, but nothing to justify his self branding as a lifelong progressive. The third horse in this trifecta is that this is an attack on Mr. Sheyman's undeniable youth. If elected, he will almost certainly be the youngest member of the 113th Congress. I call this the Whippersnapper Card. Mr. Schneider won't come right out address the candidates' relative ages. In true Rovian fashion, he leaves that to veiled allusions and whispering campaigns.
When I already perceive Brad Schneider as a kind of weak tea, wannabe Republican-lite, it doesn't help that he starts campaigning like Karl Rove.