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: