When I first saw this ad—the accusatory male voiceover, black-masked terrorists, Ahmadinejad—I thought, "Oh, great, more swiftboating of Obama and the Dems for being ‘weak’ on national security." And though I now know, of course, that the spot was made by the progressive veterans group Vote Vets to push for a clean energy bill, whenever it comes on, my stomach still clenches as if it were an announcement that Liz Cheney had taken over the Rachel Maddow show.
The ad is that good. Its red-state style allows its green message to penetrate anti-enviro skepticism as few lefty ads ever do. The idea that we need to move from oil to wind and solar to fight terrorism zips through rightwing psychological barriers like a sheep dressed in Fox clothing.
So at first glance, it’s not surprising that, while MSNBC and CNN are airing the spot, Fox News rejected it. A Fox ad salesman told Vote Vets that the commercial is "too confusing.” And, in the largest sense, maybe he’s right: "Alarm," as it’s called, could connect viscerally with Fox viewers, but it speaks such un-Fox words.
The ad itself, however—part of Vote Vets’ $1 million campaign—couldn’t be clearer, or nonradical. The basic argument is that if the U.S. were to lead the world to reduce its craving for oil, regimes based on little else would be weakened around the globe. Earlier this year, T. Boone Pickens, a Swiftboat consigliere, said as much in several ads pushing his plan to switch vehicles to natural gas (though unfortunately, they were tinged with an anti-Arabic tone).
But what is confusing is that Fox News has run Vote Vets commercials before, and with the same message. Including this spot, called "Tough," launched just last month. It’s every bit as much of a Trojan horse in Fox’s hen house (or something) as "Alarm."
Why, Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller more or less praised this spot. "I am blown away by that footage," Miller said, inadvertently explaining the gut-check that anything vaguely leftist must pass to even be heard by the right. "Anybody who puts themselves at risk like the first half of that commercial for me and my family can say anything they want on the backside of that commercial."