Bush minus 30 seconds

bringit.jpgThe finalists for the Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest are up. Some of these are just not very good, while several are quite affecting (not the same as effective, mind you). I am partial to the message in the In My Country ad, not surprisingly given a similar post I made a while back. And I found Imagine to be one of the most engaging entries. But I have to agree with Michael Froomkin, who notes that these tend to engage those who already disapprove of Bush, rather than the crucial “undecideds.” I agree with his opinion that What are we teaching our children? may be the most effective of these for that reason. I think, though, that he overestimates Bush’s vulnerability in terms of infantilism. Call it the Arny Effect: while I doubt those who are undecided would ever admit this, I have a feeling they are protective of the innocent lad they have elected to the post. Attacking him on these grounds may trigger that protectiveness.

What, then, is the weak point? I hear again and again from those who support Bush, but find the policies troubling “he is getting bad advice.” We need to rid ourselves of someone who cannot choose good advisors.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted 1/5/2004 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty disappointed with the finalists. None of the ones I highly rated are there and a few that I gave very low marks made it which surprised me.

  2. Posted 1/5/2004 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    I do prefer “In My Country” of the ones that are there also.

  3. Posted 1/7/2004 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    I think you’re pretty much right. The reaction I’ve seen among conservatives to the MoveOn ads has been mild bemusement, bordering on protectiveness…

    It reminds me of that really terrible Seattle Post editorial that suggested that Bush supporters were essentially stupid. I know there was attempt at humor, but insulting undecideds for their identification with Bush isn’t going to help matters very much.

  4. Posted 1/13/2004 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    The election is going to hinge on homeland security, and there are no Dem candidates who can touch the President on that issue. Besides, they have to run left to get the nomination, then try to move to center for the general election, but Bush already has the center sewn up.

    The 20% of the electorate that hates Bush and will vote for anyone who runs against him. The 20% of Conservatives like myself will vote for Bush because he’s the best alternative of a bad lot. The remainder will look at the tax cuts, the growing economy, the stock market above 10,000, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as successful, Saddam captured, no attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, and the prescription drug benefits, then contrast all that with the shrill, nutty rhetoric of the Left and their threats of raising taxes (if you repeal a change in tax rates, isn’t that the same as raising taxes?) add to that the “protectiveness” you described, and I predict a 60% to 70% vote to re-elect.

    The only way the Dems will ever be relevant ever again is if they stop the Bush-bashing, stop calling Republicans and Conservatives “Nazis” and other derisive terms, stop playing class-warfare and the race-card, and start being honest with themselves about how they lost first the House, then the White House, then the Senate, but they’ll never do that, because it’s too humiliating.

    Alternatively, they could always just accept permanent 2nd place and just be honest about who they really are: Liberals.

  5. Posted 1/14/2004 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Chuck & TTM: You can think it, you’re just not supposed to say it ;). I mean, I have extraordinary difficulty understanding folks who say Bush has done a decent job over the last four years. I personally think the presidency has an effect on the economy, but that effect is complex and difficult to plan for. So, the economy doesn’t really affect my vote one way or the other. That’s not true of the majority of the voting public, and I suspect that if Bush loses, it will not be for any particular policy stance or skill set, but rather because people are out of work and looking for someone to blame.

    But, I appreciate your posting, and I want to take these one-by-one, not in order to by argumentative, as much as to try to make clear why *I* have difficulty understanding support for GW Bush:

    Tax cuts: Here I am on the extreme left, I suppose, though I usually chafe at the whole left-right thing. I like progressive income tax the way it was first initiated. That is, I think we should tax the income of, say, the top 5% of income earners in the US, and eliminate income tax for the rest. Lowering across the board doesn’t do much to address the inequities present in the economic system, but results in a bigger hit on the budget.

    The growing economy: The trick is, it’s only growing for those who need it least. Ask anyone with a decent investment portfolio whether the economy is growing, and the answer will be a quick yes. But everyone I know knows someone who is out of a job. I should note that I have a feeling this is a *structural* problem: that we are efficient enough (or if not us, the Chinese, Malaysians, Mexicans, etc.) that we simply don’t have enough employment for our population. What that means is that people who are otherwise skilled and hard-working are unable to find steady employment, and families are hurting because of it. US policy has to address this: the market won’t.

    The stock market above 10,000: see above. That’s great for those who can afford stock investments, or for those who will receive a pension, but the “trickle-down” hasn’t happened, and won’t. During the lean times, companies found they could do more with less, in terms of human resources (that’s what capitalism is *supposed* to do), and so they find no need to return to the employment levels of four years ago.

    The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as successful: this is one of those that I have the greatest difficulty with. By what measure are either successful. My guess is that those in favor of the wars have a different measure of success than those (like me) who see them as terrible failures so far. (And that “so far” is important. How long will the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq go on?)

    What were the objectives in these two wars? For Afghanistan, I suppose it was to disable the Taliban’s ability to shelter terrorists and terrorist training camps. You’ll recall that they claimed to be unable to deliver bin Laden to the US, because he was in hiding in the mountains. This was ridiculed as an excuse (rightly so, in some ways), but when push comes to shove, the US has been unable to deliver him either. The price of this adventure: chaos and hatred of America in the country and in the region. We smashed, alright, and with few US losses, but what, exactly, did we exchange all of those US and Afghan lives for?

    Iraq was predicated on a present danger to the US. If it was not a knowing lie, it was a lie of stupidity. The administration was interested in invading Iraq from the outset. They wanted 9/11 as an excuse, and they got it. The result: a lot of dead Americans, a lot more dead Iraqis, a price tag that, mind you, we pay in our taxes, if not today, then down the line. We are seen as global bullies. We’ve gone from the initiators of an international regime, to the empire others have always accused us of being. That’s one of the two reasons the “Nazi” label might come up. We’re annexing states we don’t like, and that worries other states.

    Saddam captured: Yep. And that’s a good thing. Although, frankly, Saddam without a national apparatus really wasn’t much of a threat. But no doubt, this helps some voters to see a concluding mark to the war.

    No attack on U.S. soil since 9/11: Yep, not even from Martians! Giving someone credit for this presumes that such attacks have been thwarted. I see no evidence of this.

    The prescription drug benefits: Few argue that changes in health policy have been pharmo-lobbyist wet dreams. That said, (prescription) drug-users vote in especially high numbers, and the effects of this policy won’t be felt for a while, so score one for Bush.

    Shrill, nutty rhetoric of the Left: Nutty depends on where you stand, as does shrill. For every Michael Moore or Dixie Chick, there is an O’Reilly or Limbaugh. The latter two are just as shrill, and would be lost if a candidate were not endorsed by one of the two major parties and they had to decide on the merits of their ideas.

    Their threats of raising taxes: I wish more were threatening to raise taxes. That most of the democratic contenders think they can cut taxes and increase government effectiveness shows that either they are duplicitous or their economic policies are as stupid as Bush’s is. Borrow-and-spend is not the way to run a country, except into the ground.

    I predict a 60% to 70% vote to re-elect: I’m not brave enough to call this one, there is way too much time between now and the election, and the world is way too chaotic. If there is another successful attack on US soil, Bush will win in a landslide. If the economy comes rushing back in a way people really feel, this will also help him. But remember that Bush lost the popular vote against a real dud of a candidate last time around, and that with a significant number of people voting for a candidate they knew wouldn’t win (Nader), assuming that Bush wouldn’t win either. I have a feeling it will be a very close race, depending on who the Dems put up.

    Finally, some issues you didn’t raise that will only affect a small number of voters’ decisions.

    All else being equal, I think any one of these would make it impossible for me to vote for Bush:

    Guantanamo: We’ve thrown people away without recourse to the courts *anywhere*. Let the light shine. When did we stop being a nation of laws and justice?

    PATRIOT act / DHS: You don’t stop terrorists by treating everyone like a criminal. 9/11 was a successful attack. Not just because it killed thousands, but because it created terror. We have been willing to give up our freedoms for a little false security. Nothing is patriotic about that.

    Neither of these will have a huge effect on the election I suspect. But they should.

  6. Posted 1/18/2004 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    TTM: I very much think that if any dem can come close to Bush in terms of homeland security, it’s Gen Clark. The whole hero vs. the coward thing may work in his favor.

One Trackback

  1. By Discourse.net on 1/5/2004 at 8:18 pm

    Bush in 30 Seconds Ads: More Misses than Hits
    The clever people at moveon.org have released the finalists in their Bush in 30 seconds contest. Entrants were asked to make a 30-second anti-Bush TV commercial. Although impressive in many ways, overall the entries were ultimately somewhat disappointi…

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