Magazine article Politics Magazine

Those 0I' Time Smears Aren't Working

Magazine article Politics Magazine

Those 0I' Time Smears Aren't Working

Article excerpt

Rep Sam Graves might have put out the very worst campaign ad of the century but there is one upside: At least now we known what's in his nightmares And it ain't pertty The ad is a wacky hallucinatory vision of what kind of dystopia the Missouri Republican fears (and wants you to fear too) -that his Democratic opponent Kay Barnes would usher in: anera dominated by "San Francisco style values" which are represented in the ad by three outlandishly dated muscle-shirted obviously meant to seem gay figures shmmying to disco tunes.

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"Barnes is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from West Coast liberals by promoting their values the ad's announcer intones gravely Evidently in Graves feverish imagination at least even modern day Midwestern school-marmiosh Democrats like Barnes secretly dream of creating a 1970s vintage decadent world that exactly resembles "Swingtown" except with more Dick Durbin.

Graves ad became an instant You Tube classic and not in a good way But Graves didn't repent of his much ridiculed line of attack. Oh no He went ahead and dropped another similar spot this one showing Barnes cutting a rainbow colored cake A gay birthday cake geez next they'll be coming for Christmas.

If it was only Sam Graves campaigning in a world dominated by antiquated party stereotypes I wouldn't feel so low But this summer has seen lawmakers on both sides of the aisle dialing back their campaign calendars to years that are campaign calendars to years that are decidedly not 2008 The GOP for its part has got its time machine set to a period when radicals, San Francicans sex drugs and rock'n roll were America's biggest enemies, and when everything the Silent Majority feared could be summed up in that dreaded dirty word "liberal'' In a recent special election in Louisiana's 6th District the National Republican Congressional Committee chose to run against Don Cazayoux a genial moderate Democrat and abortion foe like he was the second coming of George McGovern come to pry the guns out of the hands of the poor people of the bayou Everybody knows Don Cazayoux is a liberal!" one NRCC ad chirped Another ad merely flashed a picture of Nancy Pelosi, assuming that a mention of the Fury from Frisco could knock a few points off of Cazayoux's totals, easy. Over in Mississippi during the special election for the 1st District Republicans laced commercials with the poison words "radical" and "liberal" in an effort to support their candidate, Greg Davis Liberals are on the march went one such anti Travis Childers ad as though liberals constituted a dark army of Howard Zinn-indoctrinated political orcs Conservative Greg Davis will stop them.

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Centr5al to Republican efforts has been the assumption that Americans hear the words radical and liberal and instantly break into the political equivalent of allergic hives. And until recently this wouldn't have been a bad bet. Traumatized by the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s we've been ready to equate liberal a word with an august history in the longer American political tradition with transgressive and anti American But everyone's been saying this is a change election and it looks like indeed it is Like a monster under the bed that terrifies and terrifies the child until one morning it doesn't the ads just didn't work Democrat Cazayoux won his election in a lipstick-red district and as for Childers he did better in a revot4e after the ads ran than he did before The GOP said liberal boo! …

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