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Bush Ad Part 2: Critique

The first post on this subject dealt with Kerry's dishonest reaction to the Bush/Hitler ad. So I get emails asking if I really thought the ad was good enough to defend. I wasn't defending the ad. In fact, I said I didn't like it. I was merely responding to Kerry's response to it. However, I do feel the ad needs critiquing. I've never been a big fan of negative campaign ads. And let's be honest; the Bush is, despite its theme of Kerry supporters being negative while Bush stays optimistic, is, in the end, a negative ad. Campaign ads should focus on the person running for office. They should not focus on opponents. Whenever an candidate issues an ad - be it a presidential race right down to your local school board - that highlights how bad his/her opponent is, it makes me think that the candidate's campaign team cannot present their candidate in a positive light. Why would you spend money to say how bad your opponent is when that money would be better spent telling everyone how wonderful you are? Say we have Candidate A and Candidate B. Candidate A's ad should note even mention B. If Candidate A is running on a theme of positivity and optimism, then that's what the ad should reflect, not Candidate B's negativity. Extoll your own virtues. Share your hopes and dreams for your constituents and tell us how you are going to realize those hopes. Show us your smile, your warm personality. Don't show us Candidate B's scowl. Run on your record. Don't run on your opponent's surliness. Back to the Bush ad: It does little to show me why I should vote for Bush. Using images of Kerry's supporters berating Bush only tells me that Kerry's supporters hate Bush. We know that already. It lends nothing to new to the campaign. And, as if those images of Michael Moore and Al Gore weren't enough, the Hitler imagery is a bit disconcerting. I don't see what this ad accomplishes, except to hammer down an idea that's already beened hammered to death. The ad could be fixed in a few ways. Cut the Hitler images. Splice the images of Kerry supporters with those of Bush supporters saying and doing positive things. After the image of Kerry, show one of Bush being positive and optimistic. A smile on top of some rousing music isn't enough. Show me the money. Let me see Bush being positive right after you show Kerry being negative. Better yet, forget all the negativity. If you want to run a positive and optimistic campaing, can the ads that only serve to show how "bad" the other side is. Don't show the other side at all. Let's see a montage of Bush's positive messages to this country. Let's see him talking about resolve, democracy, peace and prosperity. Let's see him smilikng and shaking hands and being warmy greeted by crowds. Show him giving hope. Show him telling us that he's going to help our dreams be realized. The best ad would be that which never mentioned Kerry or his supporters at all. A candidate should be able to wage a campaign by just showing what he's done and what he's going to do. Don't tell me what Candidate B hasn't done or won't do. Tell me what you are going to do for me. Tell me why I should vote for you, not why I shouldn't vote for the other guy. The fence sitters - and there are plenty of them in this election - will not be swayed by negativity. They will be won over with optimism and postiive messages. The ad gets a D.

Comments

You gave it better than I did. I'd flunk it as far as ads go.

I wish part of the "Incumbent Protection Act" was that politicians could not talk about anything except themselves. But that's not exactly free speech.

I remember a few months ago reading about a study that showed that negative ads get run because they work. Then again, the word "negative" gets an awfully wide definition, too. Any criticism whatsoever of the opponent is considered negative and gets tarred with the connotation that we've attached to it.

I don't see a problem at all with an ad that says, "John Kerry: Favorite of the Spittle-Flecked, Frothing-Mouth Crowd". It's true, it's obvious, and it's the sort of thing that reasonable people don't want to be within 90 miles of. Then again, I think conservatives have been, in general, far too meek in the last 8 years.

Uhh, Marble, It is always about them.
Just have to read between the lines.:)

I'm only going to disagree with you Michele because I don't think that the Bush campaign has gone after Kerry et al enough.

Every day 24/7, we get Gore, NYTimes, LATimes, Moore, Soros, DU, MoveOn, ANSWER, a Federal Judge, et al, openly campaigning for Kerry. Kerry opens his own mouth and the polls go down, so he's off yachting and letting these people speak for him, and they not only are negative on Bush/Cheney but are actively lying. Over and over.

I'd love and welcome a positive campaign. But when one doesn't answer the haters and liars, when one doesn't challenge the lies, then they hang out there and become accepted as true. Good lord, look how many times the "imminent" threat thing still gets repeated!

Many times one can walk away from the bully, but when the bully stalks you (or sends his friends to stalk and harass you), there is a time for confrontation.

I would agree with you if we had a truly fair and truly objective media that reported facts objectively about both candidates instead of actively pimping for Democrats in general and Kerry specifically...but that's not what we have...

The mainstream media has shown time and time again that it won't report on stories that put Bush's opponents in a bad light...They won't even accurately report the news if it means giving Bush 'good press'...There are numerous examples from this week's stories alone (Prime example: NYT sitting on proof of Saddam-Osama connection for weeks while claiming that no connection existed)

The press rightly recognizes that if those stories were actually disseminated to the public that the upcoming November election would be more like 1972 or 1984 than 2000...And they won't stand for that...

Bush has put out ads that get out his positive message, but to say there's no place for ads about the opponent is to miss the point of an election...It's not a simple up or down vote on one candidate. If it were simply yes or no, then I would agree that a candidate should limit himself to talking only about their own attributes. But that's not what an election is...

An election is about making a choice between two candidates. If you only have information about one option and nothing but disinformation about the other, are voters really making informed decisions at the polling booth? My answer is no...What's yours?

If the only way to get out all the facts is to put them in your paid advertising because the media is completely in the tank for your opponent, then is that 'negative' advertising or is it 'informing the electorate'?

So I would ask this question: if you can't count on the media to do what they purportedly are supposed to do, what other viable options does a candidate have?

Hate negative ads. Hate hate hate them.

It pains me to see Bush (or rather, his adwriters) stooping to this level, but sadly, I think what Jimmie said about negative advertising is true - people remember it, and most people are swayed by it.

(I think it's the same audience that adores the reality shows where ordinary folk are humilated on camera, but that's a rant for my own space).

I'd much rather see an advertisement that says "This is what I have done while I was in office" and then list all the improvements that can be (realisitically) traced to the candidate. Or, "This is what I will do if you elect me." Or, for that matter, "This is what I stand for". Frankly, it can be damned hard with some candidates in state or even Senate/House races to find out all their positions before you vote...then again, maybe I'm one of the few people who actually cares what the person she's electing believes in.

I don't know. I do see negative advertising creeping into other ads for products.

I saw the ad and got the Kerry campaign letter about it. Yes, Kerry's campaign was disingenuous and hypocritical. Yes, it was a crummy, confusing, messy ad. The Bush people need to do much better.

Kerry and the Dems call throwing their own speeches back at them "attack ads". Quite frankly, fuck 'em. They might have a gripe if it were truly an attack ad, but showing their own speech is certainly fair game.

And ferchrissake, when is the Bush campaign going to use Teddy the Mouth against them?

I'm in the camp that doesn't much like negative ads but they're damned sure effective.
When Dubya ran for Governor down here, the second time, he had well about thirty percent of the black vote because the state government had a good track record on the issues that black Americans care about.
Then came the Presidential election and the James Byrd ad. Never mind that, on Bush's watch, two of the killers got the death penalty and the third, who turned state's evidence, life, without parole. Bush had to be stopped, there was no way the Dem establishment could give up their stranglehold on the black vote. So we got ads implying that Bush condoned the dragging to death of a human being, those ads worked. Bush got less than ten percent of the black vote, nationally.
You're too young to remember LBJ's 'daisy ad' from the '64 election, the ad that turned one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet, Barry Goldwater, into a raving lunitic that couldn't wait to start flinging nukes.
I can wish from now 'til I get hungry that negative ads didn't work, trouble is, they do. Since they do, and work well, I want my side to use them. The guy who loses an election because he's too principled to use the most effective tools is the guy that lost.

Michele!

Lost in Manhattan! Give me a call!

Well, actually, the driving is fun...

Let me just throw out the idea that the message in the ad needs to be driven home (it's one of the strongest angles of attack that Bush has, driving the Dems insane Bush-hate against them), but it SHOULDN'T BE SAID BY BUSH.

It should be a proxy ad, waged by the Club for Growth or some other entity. Bush's voice shouldn't be anywhere near it.

Also, this reminds me of (I think it was) Janine Garofalo, when she said, in effect, "They're stifling our dissent by broadcasting what we say."

Heh.

I'm a Bush-hater, but I thought the ad was effective. I do agree with Michele that they should take Hitler out.

I really loved the Gore speech when he talked about dragging America through the mud (I had used those exact words myself before he ever made that speech) but I have to admit the ad was effective the way it ended with Bush looking dignified and presidential. It will be convincing to independents.

I have no problem with negative ads as long as they're not blatantly dishonest or over the top. We just have to accept them.

In the life imitating art category--

There's a movie from a few years back called "The American President". One of my favorites... even though I have to suffer through depictions of Republicans as mean, evil dudes, and an issue (guns) which is leftist enough to make me ill.

That said, there's a relevant lesson.

The president of the movie sits around trying to be positive while his opponent continually slams him with negative rhetoric. His poll numbers tank, because... He Won't Respond.

Granted, I can think of better ways to respond than this particular ad, but it is, at least, a response to the shrillness of what is coming from the left these days. It needs to be done.

As for the Hitler stuff, maybe it's a bit much-- but I'd imagine Bush et al are getting a little pissed about it. Forget MoveOn, you've got Soros, Gore and Moore making veiled and/or outright references, and no outrage from Kerry or the "media".

As soon as Kerry states that he doesn't want the support from nutbags and moonbats that equate Bush with attempted genocide and MILLIONS dead... I'll say lay off the issue. Until then- Let's Bring It On.

It would be nice to hear something in a campaign ad/speech about what the candidate stands for/against, what plans they have if elected, etc, etc, and NOT how bad the other guy is. But then again, that would require a politician who could tell the truth,,,and we all know that's an extinct animal!

Lies must be confronted and refuted or they will be accepted as truth.

The lie...

Bush = Hitler

How do you refute that lie without showing Crystalnacht?... without showing Triblinka?... without showing the boxes of dental gold?... the ditches full of bodies?... the Warsaw ghetto?...

That the level of discourse has dropped this low is depressing and makes one want to just step away from the discussion.

We cannot do that, as that is the reason, the strategy as it were, behind the poisoning of the conversation.

Make the conversation so ugly, make defending oneself so nasty and uncomfortable that the attacked surrenders and refuses to respond.

The leftists are insane but they are not stupid, they are sociopathic liars but they know how to communicate with pretty, staged pictures and flowery lies.

Actually, I kind of like it. In fact, I'd like to see MORE pictures of Hitler on the Bush web site. More, more, more.

More.

All Hitler, all the time, on the Bush-for-President web site.

Heh.

What's next? Maybe pictures of Hitler on Bush bumper stickers. Pictures of Hitler on Bush t-shirts. Maybe they'll show the Hitler ad at the RNC Convention in New York City.

More Hitler, please!

Ara, it's pretty cheesy to use someone elses site to try and plant some lame Googlebomb (btw, it won't work anyway). It's unfortunate your site doesn't have the page rank, traffic or back links to do what you want, but you really oughtta leave M. out of it.

Thanks, Al.

I changed Ara's links to something a bit more appropriate.

Ara, it's pretty cheesy to use someone elses site to try and plant some lame Googlebomb (btw, it won't work anyway).

It's also cynical. Americans aren't stupid enough to be influenced by something like that.

One thing to remember is that this ad isn't necessarily aimed at the people who read lots of blogs, especially conservative blogs. If you do, you probably know all these quotes, but there are probably lots of people out there who haven't heard these quotes before, and this ad gives Bush a chance for those people to see what they other side has been saying about him.

Could the ad have been smoother or ended more positively? Yes. But I don't think it's such a bad idea to get people in the middle to see the same things that people on the right are familiar with.

I am personally acquainted with several europeans who are naive and gullible enough to be taken in by such tactics. So please remove any references to Hitler for ads being broadcast in Europe.

That ad has done one thing and that's shown Kerry's supporters as wackos. If you keep doing that then moderates won't vote for Kerry.

While I agree with the thought that campaign ads need to focus on the positive aspects of the candidate and not on the opponent, let's be honest...

This crap works.

It works even better this year as the majority of voters will be “holding their noses” while voting. Pointing out how awful the opponent is drives the base out to vote and has more influence on the soft-chewy middle than times past (“Shining city on a hill”).

Tasteless, yes.
But screw that!
It's nice to give the Dems a taste of their own medicine for a change.

For the record, I thought the Hitler images worked much better with the likes of Gephardt and Gore, since they've been acting so hysterically lately. Quite fitting, methinks.

Now that the point has been made, the fire will die down. Guarantee it.

-- but I have to admit the ad was effective the way it ended with Bush looking dignified and presidential. It will be convincing to independents.--

I don't like the way he looks at all there, I think they could have chosen a better pic.

Mouth 1/2 open...

I like it - it's showing the dems how goofy they're becoming. While Bore can say what Kerry can't, it makes him look like he's gone over the edge and we all have read in the blogosphere that some of them who voted for him are glad they didn't because he couldn't handle himself.

It explains why Tipper was on tranqs and it shows why he needs them.

He's not looking presidential at all, if he ever entertained the notion of running again.

I think the ad is right on the money. It shows prominent Democrats like Gore and Dean as foaming at the mouth loons. It shows clips from MoveOn.Org and throws it back in their faces. It's accurate in that it says Kerry isn't making these claims, but he isn't disavowing himself from those who do.

Back in the 1964 election, Republicans said of Goldwater, "In your heart, you know he's right."

Democrats responded, "In your guts, you know he's nuts."

This time, we can point to many prominent Democrats and say with good reason, "Democrats, in your guts, you know they're nuts."

That will resonate with millions of people who see the likes of Gore, Soros, and Dean and cringe.