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New soft-money soft attack ad against Obama

In case you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a very interesting soft attack ad that will be hitting the airwaves soon (although probably not in Minnesota).The New York Times says the ad will debut Wednesday in 10 swing states “as the centerpiece of a $25 million campaign.”

The 60-second spot comes from Karl Rove’s group, Crossroads USA. It’s voiced by an actress, playing a mom, which has got to have a lot to do with the big gender gap Mitt Romney faces. In addition, the mom-character says she supported Obama in 2008, because he “spoke so beautifully.”

(Linger on the subtle nastiness of that phrase for a minute.  You’re trying to reach people who voted for Obama last time around, but who now feel less enthusiastic. You offer them this nice excuse for their 2008 mistake. The guy “spoke so beautifully,” you can’t really blame yourself for being taken in. Later the woman, her voice almost cracking, recalls “I had so much hope.”)

The ad is titled “Basketball.” It opens with the woman recalling how she loved to watch her little son and daughter playing basketball in the driveway. We see them. They are little and cute; the mom is young and emits the only real smile of the minute-long ad. But now, she says sadly, “things have changed.”

They sure have. Suddenly the woman ages, her face is wrinkled, her hair is gray. Her kids are a decade or two older and out of college, but they can’t find jobs. They’ve moved back home and the mom can’t afford to retire as early as she had hoped. Is this President Obama’s fault? The ad never says so (and it would be pretty amazing, given the timeline and the fact that the recession started when another guy — who goes unmentioned — from a different party – also unmentioned — was in office.

But in the Twilight Zone-y world of this ad, there’s no one around to blame other than the mom (can’t be her fault) the kids (nah) and Obama.

 More taxes, more spending, more debt, that’s what Obama represents. Words on the screen suggest a quick series of half-truths that purport to support this version of Obama’s record.

But there’s a better way. The woman’s tone climbs back from the edge of tears as she realizes what is required. “Cutting taxes and debt and creating jobs; that’s the change we need.” (MIght need to check the history books on what can happen to debt when taxes are cut. Nah. History is for nerds.)

The ad never mentions Romney and doesn’t advocate any particular vote. It can’t because the particular loophole through which Crossroads is operating doesn’t permit it. Instead, the woman urges you to call President Obama and tell him to “cut the job-killing debt and support the New Majority Agenda,” which was written by Crossroads and is summarized here.

The ad comes from Rove and Larry McCarthy (famous creator of the hideously racist “Willie Horton” ad of 1988) who is not known for this level of subtlety. The ad is kind of refreshing in its tone of sweet ruefulness. It seems calculated to help people who like Obama and think he means well, to get more comfortable with dumping him for an unnamed alternative president.

Although of course it is in no way coordinated with the Mitt Romney campaign, and Romney bears no accountability for it, the ad connects perfectly one of his Romney’s chosen messages about Obama – that he’s a nice guy who is just in over his head.

“Job-killing debt” is also a new phrase, at least to my ears. It’s usually “job-killing taxes.” But “job-killing” is such a euphonious prefix, that the Repubs may just attach it to every noun associated with Obama.

With apologies for spoiling the plot, here’s the 60-second spot:

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/22/2012 - 07:39 pm.


    The ad is a testament to lies told via half-truths and – maybe more than anything else – the influence of the wealthy (the people who will be served by the “New Majority Agenda”). It urges us to vote for continued and stronger plutocracy.

    Congress appropriates money, not the president. If the bailout was rife with fraud, who was doing the defrauding, and who were the victims? Why was a bailout necessary in the first place (Yes, I know, Mr. Romney would have us believe it wasn’t necessary, but Mr. Romney has demonstrated that he’s no economist.)?

    Debt kills jobs the same way taxes kill jobs – by which I mean neither one does what people who call themselves “conservative” would have us believe. Employers hire when there’s a demand for their product or service, not because their corporate taxes – which some of the largest corporations/employers don’t pay anyway – or the national debt have gone up or down.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/22/2012 - 08:57 pm.

    This ad is aimed at married women

    The democrats have always owned the single female demographic because until they get married, young females are looking for someone to take care of them, government being the husband of last resort, but married women with children generally vote republican. They voted for Obama the last time because the inherent sense of fairness in moms led them to conclude it was time for a black president.

    The ad says in effect, “We know you meant well and voted to give the young black man a chance, but it’s time to admit it was a bad idea. He’s in way over his head.”

    Since married women are on the front lines of the economy … they pay the bills, they buy the groceries, they fill the gas tank, they grieve over their kids’ inability to find jobs, they’re susceptible to such a message.

    And the polls show they’re giving up on Obama. Romney now leads Obama with married women by 8-9 points, depending on the poll. If Obama loses married women, he loses the election.

  3. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/23/2012 - 09:24 am.

    This says more about you

    Than it does about Democrats.
    How many young women do YOU know?

  4. Submitted by Arvonne Fraser on 05/23/2012 - 11:51 am.

    Eric Black today

    Rove’s ad is subtle and may be effective, but reading Eric’s piece on Krauthammer’s speech before the Center of the American Experiment that doesn’t praise Romney and the recent Minnesota Republican convention dominated by Ron Paul’s adherents should give Democrats (DFL in Minnesota) hope. Between now and November Obama may get more aggressive and Democrats may get energized and quit expecting Obama to wave magic wands to accomplish things. After all, it’s too many Democrats and Minnesota DFLers not voting in 2010 that gave the T Party its triumph.

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