Home / Forget The Critics, This Ad Is Just Funny

Forget The Critics, This Ad Is Just Funny

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The Republican National Committee has primed the righteous outrage pump with an ad they're running against Harold Ford in the Tennessee Senate race. Many complaints have been raised about the ad, including a claim that it's racist, but I think the ad is just funny as hell. It takes all those tedious 'man on the street' ads, turns them on their ear, and pokes fun at the candidate.

From what I know about him, Ford is a bit of a prig. He's a socially conservative and fiscally liberal Democrat — the worst possible kind of Democrat, found in the Lieberman wing of the party. I guess we can just be thankful he didn't infiltrate the GOP like so many others of his ilk. He's self-righteous and humorless and it just tickles me a little bit to see an ad like this.

According to critics, many of the claims in the ad are misleading. Apparently, Ford supported doing away with the marriage penalty, and there's very little to link him to some of the other issues. Those are fair criticisms. What's less reasonable are the criticisms which say the ad is racist, primarily because it portrays a presumably promiscuous white woman gushing over Ford — who is African American, for those who didn't know it already. I have to think we're well past the day when racially mixed relationships were a campaign issue. Strom Thurmond acknowledged his mixed-race child and if he can do it, the stigma is pretty much dead. It really seems like reaching to try to turn this into a racial issue. Some critics have even said the hunter depicted is supposed to be in 'blackface,' which is just ludicrous.

I realize that, technically, this is an example of truly outrageous campaign mudslinging, but it's done with a certain amount of style and humor and I enjoy watching it a hell of a lot more than a lot of the more earnest ads out there. I'd rather see ads like this than film of a candidate playing with his kids and puppies. Aside from a couple of the issues, I don't even see it as that effective an attack on Ford. Do they really think voters will be scandalized because he went to the Playboy mansion? Plus, I don't live in Tennessee and don't care which of these fools gets elected, so I can just sit back and enjoy it.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • Lumpy

    Why is there no link to the ad video? Surely it’s on YouTube. everything else is.

  • Dave, I’m amazed that you “don’t care which of these fools gets elected” to the U.S. Senate, to pass laws for the whole country, involve us in wars, tackle immigration, Social Security & health care issues and spend our money. Are you moving to Australia or is Texas getting ready to secede?

  • Nancy

    Actually, Thurmond never did publicly acknowledge his mixed-race daughter; she herself ‘came out’ well AFTER he died, and only then was it known that he’d in fact been hiding her all these years, even tho he’d been paying her support, etc. No, Dave: Thurmond was a two-faced hypocrite & liar to the end. If nothing else, he was consistent throughout his wretched, disgusting, self-serving life.

  • RedTard

    The racial overtones in the ad were meant to enflame the virginia white trash and bring out their racism at the polls, nothing more or less. Shame on you Nalle for enabling this blatant racial ploy.

  • what Red sez in number 4

    couldn’t have been said better

    now, you know yer in Trouble when Red and i agree on something


  • handyguy

    I grew up in Tennessee, though I left 20 years ago. I’d love to see them elect a Democratic senator, whether Dave Nalle thinks he’s a boring prig or not. [Gee, that would be a good way to choose the Senate…no boring prigs! They’d have to start from scratch probably, since professional politicians are by nature boring and priggish.]

    At any rate, I fear that what pollsters call “the 15% lie,” meaning some white voters will say they voted for a black candidate when they didn’t, will be Ford’s undoing. In other words, the race may not be as close as it looks.

    Since the matter of who controls the Senate is a pretty important national issue, it’s a bit shocking to read the Political Editor of this site saying he doesn’t “care which of these fools gets elected.” Not as shocking as his assertion that “no one gives a rat’s ass” about dead Iraqis (and that only a few more people care about dead US soldiers). No doubt these comments are intended with some irony, some [very questionable] humor, and with the intent to provoke comment. But they may not encourage one to take their author’s serious comments more seriously.

  • Gonzo, I think Red was being sarcastic. Have you looked at the ad? There’s not a racial overtone in there.

    As to my not caring which of them gets elected, from what I’ve read neither of them is terribly attractive. Given the choice I’d vote against BOTH of them. It’s not that I don’t care who controls the Senate, it’s that I don’t care which of these particular unappealing candidates ends up there.

    When faced with the choice between a socially conservative tax and spend democrat and a republican who holds almost the same positions on most issues, I guess I’d pick the Republican. Oh fine, Corker is pro-gun so I guess he’s my choice. But why do I have to be enthusiastic about these losers?

    What I’m enthusiastic about is interesting candidates with fresh ideas and a willingness to buck their party establishment and innovate.

    And Handy, in the comments you’ve referenced I’m expressing my general disgust with the complacency of the American public and the quality of our political leadership. If you’re satisfied in those two areas we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. As for control of the Senate, it’s not going to change, though the House might. And regardless Bush is still president so we’ll get the division of power between the parties which we need very badly.

    And Lumpy, your browser’s not Flash compatible.

    BTW, it would be nice to see someone actually express an opinion on the actual ad. But the failure to do that fits right in with my comments Handy brought up.


  • Baronius

    A comment on the actual ad? I agree with you: it’s funny. Everyone’s tired of attack ads with the serious, disappointed voice, saying something like “he just doesn’t care about the people”. The rare positive ad features either the candidate and his family, or the staged man-on-the-street’s opinion. I think it’s brilliant to use a man-on-the-street parody as a negative ad.

  • Thanks, Baronius. Nice to know that I’m not the only one who found it amusing.


  • Steve

    I was watching some ‘animated’ (for lack of a better word) political musical satire on TV last night, on a show that had a segment about JibJab.com.

    Interesting stuff, just ridiculous enough as to not be offensive, but still funny.

  • Martin Lav

    I guess if I lived in a “rambling country shack” I’d find this humorous too.

    (I see you changed your bio Dave …. nice…)

    I don’t see how BC can allow someone to represent their site if they don’t give a shit about Iraqi’s dying and they don’t give a shit about who wins a senate race.
    Doesn’t make sense to me…..

  • Affirmative. Funny ad. (Said because I wanted to not because Dave wanted us to.)

  • Bill B

    So an ad for the conservative republican candidate features a ditzy blond white woman coyly winking and making it clear she’s very interested in the black democratic candidate…..in good ole Tennessee. Nah, nope. Nothing trying to dust off those old racist tendencies there.

  • Lumpy

    Harold Ford isn’t all that black. Making an issue of his race would be fairly ridiculous.

  • Zedd

    The Canadians don’t think its funny. They have made an official objection to the white house because of the party of the candidate.

    Canada is playing a pivotal role in Afganistan, has lost 36 soldiers and doesn’t apreciate their effort being taken lightly….

    I agree with Gonzo. Putting that girl at the end saying “call me” was done to make someone mad. Would they be apealig to the “Bubba vote”?

  • STM

    Yeah Dave, you’re right. The ad’s hilarious, even though as a non-American I have no idea about the background to it. Still, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out what it’s about. However, if most of the stuff about him isn’t true, especially the promiscuous white woman bit, and has been aired publicly, doesn’t he now have a water-tight case for defamation? Big time?

  • Zedd, did you spell ‘Bubba’ right? That’s important appartently in these comment areas.
    The ad, funny? In and of itself I suppose. There are lots of things that are funny but I think it’s very disrespectful to the whole process of democracy to stoop to the lowest common denominator in a political ad.

    In fact, I think it would actually be harmful to the goal of the ad because it’s not going to change any votes. It’s like an ‘in’ joke for republicans and will only piss off democrats, possibly encouraging them to vote when they otherwise may not have.
    Just my opinion. I wonder how funny republicans would have found a similar ad about their candidate?

  • Yet another reminder that Canada as a nation has no sense of humor at all.

    Kyle, I can honestly say that I’d have found a similar ad directed at a Republican damned funny.

    There’s a great animated ad about Rick Perry from a local Texas citizens group that’s hilarious. Wish I could remember the link.


  • Bill B


    Harold Ford isn’t all that black.

    Someone be sure and tell Bubba.


    Truth be told the add is mildly humorous, aside from the blond chick.

    To me there is something unsettling about political ads trying to be funny.

    Sorta like I wouldn’t finding a funny commercial advertising Sloan/Kettering here in New York very funny.

    For those unaware Sloan/Kettering is a medical/research center specializing in cancer.

  • Zedd

    The ad is funny.


    I didn’t want to start a fire storm so I made sure to check my spelling of Bubba. I think that after dementia has set in and I am wondering the halls of some institution, I’ll be heard whispering B-U-B-B-A through the corridors. I fear the Bubba police.

  • troll

    gee…and to me scenes of knights being charbroiled by dragons are hilarious

    funny is in the ‘eye of the beholder’ I guess

  • Clearly it’s time to send Zedd for some more cultural sensitivity training.


  • Clavos

    I think the candidate should be commended for injecting humor in the political process.

    Too bad it doesn’t happen more often.

  • Bliffle

    It’s just those funny republicans cutting up again. Boys will be boys.

  • Bliffle

    It’s just those funny republicans cutting up again. Boys will be boys.

  • I think the candidate should be commended for injecting humor in the political process.

    Too bad it doesn’t happen more often.

    IMO it happens unintentionally far too often. Intentional humor is a nice change from the usual farce.


  • Mohjho

    I guess laughing at adolescent humor aimed at a whole group of people is one way to deflect taking a hard look at a situation.

    Political ads are not funny. Political groups do not spend millions on ads to entertain you or just to make you laugh.

    This ad was specifically targeted to inflame racist emotions in order to sway voters. That’s what they pay for, that’s what they get. Your callousness only belies your willful ignorance of the obvious.

    This kind of ad is used because it works and with pundits like you, they can claim innocent humor.

  • Clavos

    Political ads are not funny. Political groups do not spend millions on ads to entertain you or just to make you laugh.

    Exactly my point.

    What a shame — politicians (and especially political parties) take themselves far too seriously.

  • Bliffle

    Lighten up you guys. It’s just those wacky republicans.



    I read that the leader of the GOP in Tennessee said, “I’d give it two thumbs up — if I had opposable thumbs…”

    Anyway, Nalle, nice to see you trying to be rebellious and provocative.

    And now that I know yer taste in film, here’s a recommendation for tons of yucks!

    Will to Power by a famous comic named Leni Riefenstahl.

    Check it out! It’s a hoot!

  • Shark Dangerfield

    Whoops. Fucked up my own joke.

    Triumph of the Will by a famous comic named Leni Riefenstahl.”

  • Zedd


    Aren’t you taking this just a little too far?? Cultural sensativity because I spelled Bubba wrong and didn’t care.

    Have you looked at my posts. My spelling and punctuation is all over the place, depending on how engaged I am. I explained this to you before.

    Could it be that your response has more to do with other issues that are not related to my statements?

  • This ad was specifically targeted to inflame racist emotions in order to sway voters. That’s what they pay for, that’s what they get. Your callousness only belies your willful ignorance of the obvious.

    Do please explain to me in detail what’s racist about this ad. I bet it will reveal more about your racist attitudes than anything else.


  • Peter J

    Hey Dave,
    It was a different slant for a political add and the first time I saw it It struck me as comical (slightly)
    After that I saw it as I see all political adds which rely on slandering the opposition rather than tooting their own candidates horn. If this is all they have to say about themselves when given the opportunity to get elected, cutting down the opposition then they must not have a damn good thing to say about their own candidate. Those adds ar expensive and if this is how they’ll waste their donors money how will they waste ours when in office.
    Whenever I see an add such as this I vote the other party.

  • Lumpy

    I’ve finally seen the ad now and while I don’t think it’s terribly effective I don’t see how any sensible person would consider it racist. A lot of the racist accusattions seem to revolve around the blond girl at the end, but it seems to me that if she were black it would be far more racist.

  • Nancy

    I finally managed to check this one out, & have to agree, while some of it is mildly humorous, in the end the point is manifestly aimed at raising racist alarms among the conservative, white voters of Tennessee (which seems to be just about all of them). Yeah, I would agree: it’s a typical offensive targeted to those lacking opposable thumbs – or those the GOP THINKS lack opposable thumbs, i.e. the redneck yuks of Tennessee. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the redneck yuks for once resented being pasted that way by the GOP & gave them the comeuppance they deserved at the ballot booth?

  • Nancy, since most people in the GOP don’t think of race as an issue, your theory on the ad is implausible. Time and again it is the democrats who bring up race as a political issue. For the GOP people are just people.

    As for the specifics of the ad. Would it not have been MORE racist, as someone pointed out earlier, if they had presented a stereotyped black girl?

    And it’s all moot, because Ford has a well known history of dating white women, and no one really cares.


  • Dave,
    out of curiousity what was your take on the Willie Horton ads from 1988?

    btw, I didn’t find it funny, but it is possible to be funny and offensive at the same time. It also can feel different if you’ve been the victim of racial innuendo in your own life.

  • Zedd

    Dave: What do you mean when you say that race isn’t an issue for people in the GOP.

    Are you saying that they don’t care about race matters?

    Are you saying because the party is not that diversified, they don’t have to deal with race?

    Are you saying that they think that the issues which affect people of other races aren’t important?

    What did you mean??? Help me understand.

  • out of curiousity what was your take on the Willie Horton ads from 1988?

    Well, they weren’t funny, and they also weren’t a fair criticism. As I pointed out in the article not all of these criticisms of Ford are fair either. But you can get away with a few slight distortions on non life or death issues if you’re funny. The issues with Horton were much more serious, and engaging in political distortion when dealing with accusations of rape and murder is much less excusable.

    So in a nutshell there’s no comparison. The Horton ad was infinitely worse.


  • Bill B

    What happened to that ‘republican standard bearer for the mlk ethic’ post? I was gonna have some fun with that.

  • I don’t know, Bill B. I do remember writing something to that effect, but it seems to be gone.

    Let me say it again – Republicans judge people by their actions and the content of their characters and their skin color is really not an issue.


  • Bill B

    I can’t seem to remember exactly how I was gonna go after that but I do believe that ethic to be more of a goal to shoot for than a goal fullfilled, for both parties. That’s obviously not the funny thing. I believe it had something to do with painting with a broad brush. Oh well.

    I’m going to spare resurrecting this topic other than to say while I understand your pov, this ad whether intentional or not has(d) (imo)racist overtones of the interacial relationship variety.

  • Nancy

    Most Republicans – and especially the party leadership elite – live in a world of lily-white uberprivilege, where race is not an issue because all of them are rich & lily-white, & everyone but them is a subordinate or of the lower classes regardless of race, therefore … what issue? That would be the ONLY reason the GOP doesn’t have a race issue. Otherwise, they are notorious as the party of rich, privileged, old-boy-network white men. Everyone not a fellow alum of Skull & Bones is considered to be fodder for whatever cannon they’re firing off at the moment, not as human beings like themselves. I have no doubt the idea would be abhorrent to them, one & all.

  • Clavos

    Nancy, Nancy, Nancy…


    Most Republicans – and especially the party leadership elite – live in a world of lily-white uberprivilege, where race is not an issue because all of them are rich & lily-white

    There are thousands of African American Republicans; here in South Florida, there are tens of thousands of Republican Latinos.

    Otherwise, they are notorious as the party of rich, privileged, old-boy-network white men.

    and nationwide there are millions of ordinary middle class (i.e. non-rich) Republicans in all walks of life, about half of whom are female.

    I thought you liberals didn’t believe in stereotyping???

  • Nancy, there are FAR more people of non-white ethnicity involved in the high levels of the GOP than there are in the Democratic party, and certainly more people with alternative sexuality and absolutely more women. As I’ve said before, the GOP doesn’t care WHO you are they just care what you believe and what you do to act on those beliefs.

    This whole race issue is mostly in the minds of the left. They’re obsessed with it.