As we announced here last Thursday, my Campaign 2012 coverage will be transitioning this week from an ultra-wide angle to a tighter focus: namely, on the media and TV/web ads, what some people (rightly or wrongly) are calling the “real campaign” this year. David Brooks complains about just that this morning in his column, in which he asserts that the candidates this year are merely seeking to go viral: “The campaigns get lost in tit-for-tat minutiae that nobody outside the bubble cares about. Meanwhile, use of the Internet means that Web videos overshadow candidate speeches and appearances. Video replaces verbal. Tactics eclipse vision.”
Brooks says this helps makes this “the dullest campaign ever.” That can hardly be the case, given the nature of many of the attack ads. Of course, there’s the added hilarity of Brooks accusing something else of dullness. Pot meet kettle.
So here are my picks for the wildest campaign-related ads for July as we hit the end of the month (I’ll add a few more as the day goes on, and thanks for any tips at firstname.lastname@example.org).
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In a Texas race, a woman more or less suggested a candidate killed her son (he committed suicide):
One of the roughest anti-Obama ads yet, as right-wing PAC goes Full Birther, and more:
And, in preview of things to come, another pro-GOP PAC hits Obama as being weak on terrorism— using images from 9/11, which happened on Bush’s watch. You do like their women in the kitchen.
Of course, the Obama campaign was going negative as well (although new stats found Romney ahead of him on that level by at least 5-1), but often in a more comedic vein —or in this case, a widely criticized silly tone using “dressage” to define Mitt:
Here’s one of my favorites: Romney finally attacked straight-on for his bullying and assault with scissors on gay students long ago. The kicker: It’s not a campaign spot but an ad for the law firm of Jack Kevorkian’s old attorney.
Not sure if this counts as an “attack” or a seduction, but here’s Sarah Silverman’s widely covered and not-safe-for-work offer to “scissors” with Romney funder (and chief advisor on Israel) Sheldon Adelson if he would only give some dough to Obama:
And, for some perspective: this TV spot for Lyndon Johnson in 1964 linking opponent Barry Goldwater to — the Ku Klux Klan. Like the famous "Daisy" commercial that year (suggesting Goldwater might blow up the world) it may have never aired, though it did get a shout out on Mad Men.
Greg Mitchell’s campaign books include Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady, The Campaign of the Century and Why Obama Won, all available in print and ebook editions. He also blogs at Pressing Issues.