Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ad: The fundamentals of our economy...

It didn't take long for the Obama campaign to jump on McCain's comment Monday that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." Biden started hitting McCain on it later that same day, and this ad has already started airing:

Angela Natividad at AdGabber, from whom I first got word of the ad, called it "dirty press." My first responses to that were a chuckle, as though the dirty card hadn't already been solidly played by the McCain camp, and derision. Personally, I feel McCain is out of touch and likely to do further damage to the economy should he win the White House.

But, the more I think about it, I'm not sure I like this ad. Though not as blatant or laughable as the McCain ad that tried to take mention of a pig and lipstick out of context, I think this too is an example of distorting your opponent's intention.

Look at the whole McCain quote:

"The fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times. I promise you we will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street!"

Now, let me be clear - I don't think McCain will clean up Wall Street and I don't think he has any clue how bad things are for average Americans. But, I also don't think he was saying that economic indicators are positive or that there aren't problems to be addressed. Frankly, I believe he meant "fundamentals" to refer to the people and companies that make up the basis of our economy.

And, he's quite possibly still wrong. I'm one that believes that the fundamental bases of our capitalist economy are fundamentally fucked, that the system has bred a atavistic culture that will eat and eat and eat until it consumes itself.

But that isn't what the ad is inferring. It takes that quote to mean that McCain believes that the economy, right now, is strong, which is obviously not the case.

It isn't a terrific distortion, but it feels like one all the same, and that isn't a tactic I want Obama to adopt. The decontextualized distortion is the oldest trick in the poli-ads book, and that's not change, that's more of the same.

Do I want Obama to go on the offensive? Yes. But I want a good clean fight, and this ad veers awfully close to a rabbit punch. Let the other side be the ones swinging for below the belt.

But maybe I'm a minority voice in this. What say you? Do you like the ad? Do you like these tactics? What do you want to see out of Obama ads?

AdGabber: 'The Fundamentals of Our Economy Are Strong.'

ABC News Blog: Biden Rips McCain for Saying the Fundamentals of Economy are "Strong"


the beige one said...

It's a very very fine line, and I have an entry coming up in a bit that discusses some of this on a different bit of media.

I'd prefer not to have the distortion, but if there's anything we've learned from the Rove playbook, it's that going for nuance (which would be necessary in approaching this topic straight on) doesn't play.

I was watching Ferguson earlier this week, and when he came to Obama's take on Wall Street, he summarized it with a wonkish-sounding "blah blah blah." It's fuggin' irritating, but also par for the course.

The goal is to keep him dancing, it seems, and in that sense it worked. I'm still trying to determine if the ends justify the means here.

However, Obama came out today with a new 2min. ad detailing some more of his policy. I'd be curious to see your thoughts on that.

Verdant Earl said...

A part of me would rather not see the Obama camp stoop to these levels, and another part thinks that its about time!

Za Beige One is right. Very very fine line.

Anonymous said...

Even if McCain meant "fundamentals" to refer to the companies that make up the basis of our economy, Fanny Mae, Freddy Mac, Bear Stearns, AIG, Merrill Lynch and Lehmann Brothers ARE (how do you make the damn italics thing work?) some of those companies which is why the situation is so dire. If they were Nordsrom, General Foods and Nike, there would not be the issues we are having.

Hammer away I say!