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How to Lose an Electorate (Or Not Win Them Over Much)

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Everyone in America either knows the routine by heart or is swiftly reminded of it every time an election rolls around. You're minding your own business, watching 60 Minutes or Reading Rainbow, and suddenly it's a commercial break and a sepulchral voice starts lecturing you as a familiar smirking politician Ken-Burnses his way (in vintage newsreely black and white) across the screen, interspersed with spinning facsimiles of newspaper headlines like something out of a 1930s gangster movie.

"Candidate Smith," intones the voice. "He's done Creepy Thing A. He voted for Creepy Thing B. He wants to do Creepy Thing C. He'll sell your children to a Satanic death cult and that's not even Creepy Thing D."

The smirking pol is abruptly replaced by the least insincere-looking footage the commercial's producers could find of his opponent. "Candidate Brown," the voice says soothingly. "He's Not At All Creepy." (The actual slogan is usually a bit more imaginative than this, but scarcely catchier.)

Finally the masterpiece is rounded off by a still shot (in color) of Candidate Brown gazing serenely at what is apparently a vision of the Virgin Mary in the distance; accompanied by a terse recording of the voice of same informing you that he approved this bullshit message.

Now Candidate Smith may or may not have done all those creepy things, and Candidate Brown may or may not, in contrast, be the Anointed One. Probably not, in both cases. That's not what is most disturbing here.

Nor is it the fact that the campaign bosses who approve these attack ads apparently believe with utmost sincerity that a voice which reminds one of Chester M. Lester, at large from the State Correctional Facility for Men Who Enjoy Pulling Down Little Girls' Underpants, will be interpreted by the populace as a herald of trustworthiness.

No. It's the fact that no matter where in the country you are, whatever the issue and regardless of party, the voiceover on the ads is always the same guy.

And that whoever the fellow is, he's been playing the Democrats, the Republicans and just about everyone else off against each other for the better part of the last forty years.

Attack ads do their job in that they're not going to endear anyone to Candidate Smith. But they hardly make for attractive election campaigns. Far from engaging people in the political process, the only person who's being turned on by these ads is ol' Chester. He's the real winner of every election since Johnson whipped Goldwater. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Creepy Thing E.

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About Dr Dreadful

  • Kwaayesnama

    MCCAIN/PALIN ECONOMIC PLAN – TRUST WALL ST WITH SOCIAL SECURITY

    John McCain’s long touted plan for social security is to privatize it. Using the same Wall Street companies that are going under. Do you trust your future to Wall Street! Do you trust your future to John McCain and the lobbyists that are advising him and running his campaign? Here is a list of all of his major campaign workers and the special interests they represent.

  • Clavos

    Chris/Doc,

    Time to limber up the delete button. This *%^&$#@ intellectual gentleman is posting this same comment all over the site.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Thanks for this funny and incisive piece, Dr. D.

    With all the accusations of “lies” flying back and forth from both sides of the campaign, it’s a more depressing season than some of us had hoped when these particular two candidates were nominated. New politics and all, y’know.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Done, Clav.

    I left it up on here because it was the first place he posted it, but the dupes elsewhere are gone.

    I do think it’s ironic, though, that the first comment on this piece about attack ads is the blogging equivalent!

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    And you know you’re on to something when even Karl Rove thinks you’ve gone too far….. although he eschews factchecking, just in case.

  • Cannonshop

    Good article Doc, lots to think and ponder on.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I always enjoy reading your articles, Doc. This one is…

    Oh sorry, I trailed off there didn’t I?

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/39420/joanne_huspek.html Joanne Huspek

    I think that guy hit my article as well.

    Thanks, I was just thinking that this weekend. This would be really funny if it weren’t so true.

  • Cannonshop

    I think you mis-spelled Chester’s last name, though-shouldn’t it be O’Lester?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Just for the record you non-liberal, non-PBS watcher, there are no commercials on Reading Rainbow.

    Turn in your ACLU card now.

    Dave

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    That was actually funny, Dave. I had no idea you had a sense of humor. It WAS mean to be humorous, wasn’t it?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Yes Lisa. I’m often humorous. My experience is that most humor is too subtle for lefties to grasp and they interpret it as something else.

    Dave

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Of course there’s your other experience of humour – when it is directed towards you, rather than by you – which has also been known to be misinterpreted…

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    You really can’t let it go, can you, Dave……

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I’m well aware that Reading Rainbow doesn’t have commercials, Dave (unless you count those sponsor messages at the start of the program which pretend not to be commercials but really are).

    I was going for the humor of incongruity… hopefully you actually did figure that out!