Two political TV ads are indelibly etched in my brain. Each made its point in dramatic fashion.
The first one Lyndon Johnson ran against Barry Goldwater who was thought to be a “war-mongering right-winger” at the time, but who’d hardly make a ripple in the current pond. The ad showed a little girl slowly pulling petals off a flower while a nuclear bomb went off behind her. The message was stability with Johnson; annihilation with Goldwater.
The second: in 2007, then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign ran one we all saw and which remains – almost word-for-word – in my brain today. Black and white. A telephone rings by a bedside. The ad asks “When the phone rings at three in the morning in the White House, who would you rather have answer.” The message, of course, was to portray her as more experienced than Barack Obama.
Both ads were effective: one with an image and the other with words. But it’s the Clinton ad questioning experience – and, by inference, stability and intelligence – in the person who picks up the receiver and faces a world crisis. I can’t help but apply it to the current field of people running for the Republican Party presidential nomination.
O.K. Let’s see what we’ve got here and how it stacks up.
Candidate A: A dingbat “history-challenged” on nearly everything; hates federal subsidies but takes more than $250,000 a year for her family’s farm; thinks homosexuals can go “straight” through prayer; wants to abolish five federal departments; believes founding fathers ended slavery.
Candidate B: Despite knowing his public statements are filed away in numerous video vaults, has been on both/all sides of many major national issues; is viewed as an insult to “thinking” conservatives – by thinking conservatives; after a year campaigning, can’t get more than one in four to say they’ll vote for him; has flatly lied in a national campaign commercial.
Candidate C: Has been confronted by nine women alleging sexual abuse or affairs over a 20 year span; believes presidents need know nothing of foreign issues; goes blank when asked about what this nation’s military involvement was in Lybia this year; thinks “if you’re unemployed it’s your own fault.”
Candidate D: Former governor of Utah; former U.S. Ambassador to China; played in a rock band; used family’s millions in political races when he was unsuccessful raising public funding; can’t attract national poll numbers higher than very low single digits.
Candidate E: Wants to legalize marijuana and other “soft” drugs; abolish the I.R.S., would bring back the gold standard; eliminate the U.S. Dept of Education and several others; has run four times and never come close.
Candidate F: Former senator who believes slaves had “good” lives before emancipation; wants federal law to teach “creationism” in all public schools; legislatively tried to get congress to dictate private medical treatment of brain-dead Terry Schiavo; supports federal laws against homosexuality; failing re-election, he spent years lobbying congress for large national clients who paid for his access.
Candidate G: A governor who has openly – and repeatedly – talked of leading his state to secede from our country; wants to abolish the Dept. Of Education, Dept. Of Commerce and one he can’t remember when asked; doesn’t know the legal voting age in this country; doesn’t know the date of the 2012 election in his own race.
Candidate H: Forced to resign from the U.S. House of Representatives for unethical practices; serial adulterer taken to court to force payment of back child support; avoided Viet Nam by marrying one of his teachers at age 19; has made millions by selling his access to congress to numerous national corporations and individuals; has been pro-choice or an abortion foe for years – often at the same time; campaigned to stop global warming (now opposes) and to support health care insurance mandates (now opposes.)
Did I miss anyone? Good. That should include all of the people running for the Republican Party nomination for president this year. Who do you like? C’mon. Who?
More than that – which one would you have answer that 3 a.m. phone call? Go ahead. Give it some very serious thought. I’ll wait.