I just got a chance to see a couple of clips of the Bush-Cheney ads released to the media today, and to be run in swing states and on cable news channels beginning tomorrow.
In a word, they were desperate. And I don't think most swing voters (the supposed targets of these ads) will have a hard time figuring that out.
I haven't seen all the ads in full so I'm hesitant to give a detailed shot-by-shot explanation of why I think they will be so unsuccessful. But here's the gist of it:
- They are full of excuses. The one ad I did see in full opens with all of the bad things that were happening when Bush took office: recession, dot-com bust, etc. On economics, he will obviously try to run on a "blame Clinton and 9/11" and "things are turning the corner" platform. Now Poppa Bush was never able to blame his predecessor, but he did play the "things are getting better" tune. Didn't work for Daddy, won't work for Dubya. It's a pathetic theme to run on: "don't blame me."
- They use 9/11 imagery. We all knew this was coming, but I'm surprised at how soon, and how readily, they would show a tattered flag in the ruins of 9/11. Tragedy is being exploited, and it's blatantly transparent. 9/11 is going to be the theme of this campaign, from beginning to end. It will be painted as the cause of our economic woes, the reason why we "had" to go to war with Iraq, and a testament to Bush's "leadership" in a time of peril. Kerry should have no problem pointing out the hypocrisy and lies on all three counts. If they have to go to 9/11 imagery right off the bat, they're in worse position than I thought.
There's more. But these two aspects reek of desperation to me. And more importantly, I think they will reek of desperation in the eyes of swing voters. The slick production values, excuses after excuses, and brazen use of tragedy for political purposes will not resonate with folks who already take a cynical view of most paid TV media (as the vast majority of Americans now do).
I had expected to be more impressed with these first ads.