Monday, September 10, 2012

If Karl Rove Were a Democrat: 5 Fake Ads and 1 Punt

So you may have noticed that Karl Rove is a Republican.  And also that he has a special kind of genius for running aggressive, fairly-unethical, but also fairly effective ad campaigns.  He's trying to do that right now - for a SuperPAC he runs, called Crossroads GPS.  They run ads like this one:

Let's take a look at the words on the one, lasting image from this ad:

Get it?  "Arab" on one side, "Lazy" on the other, and the we've got "Luck, Headwinds, and Control..."

Now that's subtle, Karl.  Right up there with the "Rats" ad.

Now, I'm not saying that the Obama Campaign should run ads like the hypothetical ones I've outlined below - to mimic the Rove-ian style with Obama-promoting facts...

BUT there may be something to be learned from thinking like Rove and trying to see the places he would focus.  When Democrats are the most effective (see: LBJ - hello, Daisy Ad?, Clinton 1992 Campaign, FDR, Truman 1948 Campaign), they are more aggressive than we have seen in recent campaigns.  So maybe there's some happy middle ground between the race-baiting/inflammatory ad-making and the straightforward issue spots, that could be a useful - yet not unethical or damaging-to-the-country - place to choose.

So without further ado,

Emily's version of the Rove-as-Democrat Ad Campaign, 2012 Edition:

*Preface: I am really not used to writing in this inflammatory style, so please excuse the sometimes goofy nature of the text...

1.  "Ooh La La Romney" (A.K.A. France During Vietnam) - 

[Cue sad music, black and white photos of Vietnam War...]

Narrator: "War is a serious business.  But while over half a million Americans were fighting in Vietnam..."

Bikes.  In France.  Ooh La La.

"...Mitt Romney [Cue the French music, the picture of Romney on a bike, etc.] was on a mission in Paris, living in 'a palace' while being waited on by a spanish chef and houseboy..."

[Cue goofy music, goofy pics of Romney in London, headlines mocking Romney from London.]

"Mitt Romney thinks America's number one foe is Russia, not Al Qaeda.  He can't even go on a trip to the Olympics without offending our closest allies."

"In these tough times, we need real, serious leadership - not a guy cared more about tax cuts than thanking our men and women in uniform during the biggest speech of his career.  Mitt Romney didn't even MENTION the war in Afghanistan during his Convention speech - and yet he wants you to trust him to be Commander-in-Chief..."

"That's not good enough."

[Cue inspiring music, flattering pic of Obama.]

Tag Line: "Barack Obama: he ended the war in Iraq and brought the troops home from Iraq - just like he said he would do.  The President has refocused our foreign policy on al Qaeda, and gave the order to kill Osama bin Laden.  Real Leadership in Tough Times."

*Ethical Note:  Romney was in a bad car accident and almost died while in Paris, and while that is a significant fact of his time there, I'm pretty sure Rove would ignore it, so in crafting this "ad" I did, too.

2.  Mission Accomplished (A.K.A. Bin Laden Death/Ending the War) - 

[Cue grainy black and white picture of Bush, ominous music...]

W, but it would be in black and white, and grainy

Narrator: "George Bush had almost eight full years after we were attacked on September 11th to get Osama bin Laden.  He diverted our military and our attention to Iraq..."

"...and while his political heir, Mitt Romney, was giving motivational speeches, perpetually running for president, ... and calling RUSSIA our Number One Geopolitical Foe..."

[cue inspirational music, video of Obama's statement on the death of bin Laden (not this whole thing, just the best parts)...]

" took a real leader to get the job done."

Tag line: "Barack Obama:  Getting the job done to protect Americans, at home and abroad.  Working with allies like Russia to reduce the availability of dangerous nuclear materials, focusing our military on the hunt for Al Qaeda, getting results for Americans.  Real Leadership in Tough Times."

3.  "Osama bin Laden is Dead and GM Is Alive" (A.K.A. The Auto Bailout Worked) - 

[Cue ominous music, black and white photos of auto workers working in plants.] 

Narrator: "In November of 2008, the American Auto Industry was on a precipice.  The Bush Administration gave the industry a bit of breathing room, but no real solution to their mounting financial crisis.  Into the void came a new solution:"

[Cue close-up shot of headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" and by-line of Mitt Romney.]

"...Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

"But, thankfully, when America elected Barack Obama,"

[Cue Music swells with hopeful music.] 

"they got a Real Leader, who stepped up to the plate for Detroit, and for all of the hard-working Americans who make their living in the U.S. auto industry.  The President got the job done.  And not only have the auto companies paid back most of what they owed to America, they saved over a million jobs in the process - all over the country."

Tag Line:  "Barack Obama: Making the Tough Decisions, Standing by American Companies and American Workers.  Getting the Job Done to Save the American Auto Industry.  Real Leadership for Tough Times."

4. "Vampire Economics" (A.K.A. Why Bain Matters) - 

Cue scary Halloween music, pictures of Romney/Ryan as vampires.

Narrator: "Vampire Politics: When politicians take for themselves at the expense of hard-working American families."

"When Mitt Romney ran Bain Capital, he specialized in a brand of economics that sucked the money and life out of an already damaged or under-performing company, and took that money for himself and his friends.  Then Bain would force the company into bankruptcy and either lay-off or downsize American workers, only to have the companies fail or rebound by off-shoring American jobs."

"When Paul Ryan voted time and again for tax cuts for the wealthy, while increasing spending and borrowing, he was doing the same thing to America that Romney did to companies."

"And now Romney/Ryan want you to believe that they are looking out for you?  The Romney/Ryan budget would slash funding for education and the poor, while turning Medicare into a voucher program - eliminating the guaranteed health care our parents worked hard to achieve.  Watch your necks, America."

Tag Line:  "Vampire politics.  They want to steal the money and life out of America for tax cuts for them and their friends, while our seniors, our children, and the poor pay the price.  Don't let Romney/Ryan suck the life out of America."

5.  Mitt Romney, Flip-Flopping Fool on Your Family's Health (A.K.A. You Can't Trust Romney/Ryan on Your Family's Health) - 

[Cue images of doctors/nurses with children and older people.]

Narrator: "Health care is a serious business.

[Cue goofy circus music, goofy pics of Romney.]

"But Mitt Romney can't even explain his own position on health care."

[Cue screen shot of "flip flopping"]

"First, he was for Obamacare."  [Cue 00:45-01:12 of the following clip.]

"Then he was against it." [Cue 00:42 to 00:52 of the following clip.]

"...And NOW he says he'll keep some of Obamacare, and he didn't really mean it when he praised Paul Ryan's plan to turn Medicare into a coupon plan."  [Cue all of the clip below.]

Tag Line:  "Health care is a serious business.  Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan said they want to repeal Obamacare, gut Medicaid, and turn Medicare into a voucher program - eliminating the guaranteed health care that seniors rely on.  Now they say they may not do those things.  Romney/Ryan offer empty promises and flip-flopping positions on life-saving health care.  You can't trust Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan with your family's health."

6. Mormonism, a Punt - 

I can't do it.

I am pretty sure that if race-baiting is on the table for Karl, inflammatory ads on religion are totally okay with him.  Certainly the whole "muslim" theme to the right's attacks on the president make it seem that way.  But while I can attack policy positions 'til the cows come home, I just cannot do that.

Here's what I can do, so that this isn't a total punt: I can tell you that I think the place that a lot of people would (and from my view, should) have a problem with the Mormon Church is the whole baptizing the dead routine that they do.  Basically, Mormons are trying to go back and baptize-by-proxy pretty much everybody who ever lived.  And they have done it to people of all kinds of faiths.  Including victims of the Holocaust, who were killed for being Jewish - not Mormon,  Elie Wiesel, the prominent Holocaust survivor and author, asked Mitt Romney to intervene with the Mormon Church, to get them to honor their previous promises to not baptize-by-proxy the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.  Romney has ignored Wiesel's request.

That's an area that I feel strongly about, because I feel Mormons are disrespecting and subverting the religious convictions of people who can no longer speak for themselves.  That's the one area I feel somebody should ask Romney about, about his Mormonism.  But I imagine that a Rove-ian attack on Mormonism would look more like the South Park episode about Mormonism.

...So there you have it, my brief foray into trying to put myself into Karl Rove's brain.  I think I need to go take a shower now.


  1. This was a great, very inventive post. Because I am not subtle, I think I like the vampire ad the best. But ironically enough, I think out of all the ads, that would be the one least likely to run (by the Obama campaign at any rate). The healthcare one, my second favorite, I think would be the one that would be run by Obama and his folk.

  2. Yeah, I think you're right that the health care one is the most likely, but I actually think that the mission accomplished one is the one they are least likely to use. For some reason, they seem timid about using the foreign policy successes Obama has had. Maybe because we are still in Afghanistan or Gitmo is still open. But how many of us really thought that within four years Obama would have: a) Successfully given the order to kill bin Laden, b) ended the war in Iraq without chaos, and c) created a fairly solid timetable for withdrawing from Afghanistan? That's pretty impressive. And it doesn't include the absolutely stellar - and virtually unnoticed by the mainstream press - achievement of locking up huge amounts of dangerous nuclear material all over the world. Smart presidents, it turns out, can have a positive impact on foreign and defense policy.