Daniel Kline: Political ads make everyone look awfulPublished 8:03pm Thursday, August 12, 2010
only unfit for office, they’re likely criminals. Not only should they not be elected, but we should probably consider deporting them or at least putting them on trial for treason,
A few months ago, as the election season started, most commercials focused on the positive traits of the various candidates. “I’m John Smith and as a business leader, I created jobs, made tough choices and practiced sound fiscal management. As your next governor, I’ll do the same.”
The ads were fairly pleasant, focused on the positive and seemed generally believable. Perhaps, I thought, we have entered a new day where candidates run based on their accomplishments rather than their opponent’s alleged shortcomings.
That hope died in recent weeks as election day has approached and the campaigns have become more desperate. Now, nearly every single ad focuses on just how awful the opposing candidate is and what a horrible liar he was in his earlier positive commercials.
I’m all in favor of using advertising to publicize something negative about your opponent that the public may not know. If Candidate A raised taxes and Candidate B wants the public to know about it, that seems reasonable.
Sadly, that type of “fact” only represents a small part of the vicious commercials airing now. The body of most of these ads focus on making seemingly positive things seem horrible — even if when examined they were appropriate actions when viewed in context.
My favorite current ad involves a candidate for governor who attacks his opponent because of his actions as a CEO. Those actions, which involved laying off workers, moving jobs out of state and paying himself what sounds like a lot money, but would actually be low-end normal for his position, are painted as horrible.
In actuality, what the commercial tells me is that as CEO, this candidate acted in the best interests of his company. Despite his well-known desire to someday serve in elected office he executed his responsibilities to his business rather than serving his own ends.
Ads have become so vicious that some candidates actually accuse their opponents of committing crimes. Forget blaming them for the poor economy, or calling them “tax and spend” liberals, we have ads that actually allege fraud, misuse of public funds and outright solicitation of bribes.
I’m not precisely sure how to decide between any of these candidates because the ads make them all seem like horrible people who, if elected, will loot the treasury, have an affair with one of the Tiger Woods mistresses and change the state song to Ice T’s “Cop Killer.” Show me a few more commercials and I’ll be advocating not electing anybody and making decisions via coin toss.
I’m sure that beneath all the attacks and accusations, some truth exists, but I’m hard pressed to know who to trust. In some cases, the mandatory “I’m Candidate X and I approved this message,” makes me question the type of person who would sign off on ads filled with this much hate.
There must be someone running for some position who won’t bring about our doom either through incompetence or outright criminality but that person will not be discovered by watching TV ads.