Looking at the political ads now infesting the airwaves reminds me of a disastrous dinner party populated with ill-mannered out-of-town guests.
“The meat’s overcooked,” intones the rotund Midwesterner. The beautifully coiffed lady from New York sniffs, “How could you possible serve Brussels sprout? You know I don’t like them.” While the hard-charging venture capitalist from Silicon Valley chimes in: “I don’t like chocolate mousse. I prefer a soufflé of baby kale.”
If you’re like me, you’d be tempted to ask the whole lot to leave the house, slam (and lock) the door, and settle back with a strong drink in hand.
But that’s what we’re getting from the torrent of out-of-state funded television ads now clogging the airwaves.
One drew a splendidly snarky warning last weekend from the Michigan Truth Squad, a fact-checking service from the Center for Michigan. The ad, “Say Yes to the Candidate”, sponsored by the College Republican National Committee, tries to follow the premise of ‘Say Yes to the Dress’, a TLC reality show about women choosing a wedding gown.
The Truth Squad post begins, “A young woman identified only as Brittany glows when she stands before friends in ‘the Rick Snyder’, a fitted, strapless gown, with a sparkly belt at the empire waist. … Brittany beams under her multicultural friends’ approval, but as frequently happens on the show, there’s a fly in the ointment: Brittany’s sour-faced mother, who proclaims, ‘I like Mark Schauer. It’s overpriced and a little outdated, but I know best.”
“We’re calling this one a warning because we don’t have a category for ‘silly’”, concludes the post.
What’s interesting about this ad is there are nearly identical spots running in behalf of GOP gubernatorial candidates in Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Colorado and Arkansas. Not content with inflicting a very silly ad on countless Michigan voters, the college Republicans apparently are insisting on pulling the same stunt – called “clever” by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus – all around the country.
It’s a perfect example of why the infestation of out-of-state political ads is so irritating and (I hope) hurtful to the candidate they’re supposed to support. Gov. Rich Snyder, no doubt embarrassed by the ad which ran without his say so, was quoted in the Macomb Daily calling it “dumb and offensive”.
When I talked a while ago with both Republican and Democratic state party chairs about the avalanche of out-of-state ads, both complained that national party poo-bahs and assorted bored billionaires were messing with their attempt to make their campaigns locally relevant to Michigan voters. That was before the “Say Yes to the Candidate” ad ran, so I figure they knew even back then what they were talking about.
Sadly, there’s more, much more, of this stuff coming. Rich Robinson at the Michigan Campaign Finance Networik, an outfit that tracks political spending, says to date both parties have spent nearly $50 million between them on advertising for both races for U.S. Senate and governor. And there are millions more in the pipeline.
It’s easy (and fun) to criticize the tidal wave of partisan advertising. But, sad to say, it seems to work.
As Robinson said last week, instead of the campaigns being contests between differing political agendas and personalities of the candidates, they’ve degenerated into “my billionaire can whup your billionaire.”
Absentee ballots arrived at my house over the weekend. I’m going to vote just as soon as I finish writing this so I can hit the “mute” button on the TV remote.