Two bold, ISIS-themed commercials—one real, one fake—have hit the air this week and in their different ways reveal the depth of American hysteria.
We all know about the Saturday Night Live parody ad: against the pastel atmospherics of the Toyota spot it spoofs, Dakota Johnson plays a young woman leaving home for the first time. “You be careful, OK?” says her tearful dad (Taran Killam). “Dad it’s just ISIS,” Johnson says, and winks. “Take care of her,” Dad tells one of the black-clad fighters, who whispers, “Death to America.”
Funny? Tasteless? Helps ISIS? Hurts ISIS?
You can ask similar questions about this real ad, also starring black-clad terrorists: Tasteless? Helps congressional right-wingers? Hurts them?
Of the two ads, the one above, made by the American Action Network, a Super PAC close to Speaker John Boehner, is far more shocking, because it spews its fear-mongering and patriotic one-upmanship not at liberals, as the GOP’s been doing for years, but against fellow conservatives. As David Nir writes at Daily Kos, “To see the very same rhetoric deployed against Republicans is nothing short of stunning.”
TV spots in the $400,000 campaign are running in the home states of Tea Party–friendly Representatives Tim Huelskamp, Jim Bridenstine and Jim Jordan, and related radio spots and robocalls are targeting dozens of other reps in conservative districts. These are the brainiacs who tried to shut down the Department of Homeland Security in order to (in their own minds) force Obama to reverse his executive action on immigration.
Ultimately, Boehner caved—he allowed the House to vote, yesterday, on a clean bill to fund the DHS through September that passed with mostly Democratic support. Nancy Pelosi pushed Boehner into that corner, but so did some not-crazy Republicans, like former congressman Steve LaTourette, who (using some unfortunate imagery, considering the topic) advised Boehner: “You got to chop off a few heads…and take no prisoners. I don’t think it’s appropriate that after six members who voted against him on opening day have now been promoted to be subcommittees chairmen.”