For the last few days I’ve been meaning to update The Pickle with a post about the new Richard Blumenthal ad that hit our TVs a few hours after the Republican primary was settled in favor of Linda McMahon. I didn’t see the ad till Thursday (a week ago, again, I apologize for the delay) but I assume it began Wednesday, the day after the primary.
As I said I would, I wanted to keep The Pickle updated with specific notes and observations as our Senate race takes shape. I had an interesting conversation with a close friend who grew up in CT but has been living in the Washington D.C. area since we graduated college. He thought the more interesting race was for Governor between Dan Malloy (former Mayor of Stamford) and Tom Foley (former US Ambassador to Ireland), but I still think both in terms of drama and national importance, the Senate race remains the big one.
Regardless, this post was supposed to be devoted to the fact that Richard Blumenthal has launched his ads and in all other respects the public and expensive side of his campaign. But that was really all I had, a recap of his pledge to continue to protect CT residents and the list of those “public enemies” he fought as attorney general- big pharma, big energy, big tobacco and big insurance. Pretty much anything that requires a big, Blumenthal has fought against.
The ad is short, professional and highlights a career of public service in Connecticut. Not great, not bad. In fact, it’s just the type of ad that a career politician would and should make. I still think it lacks the motivation or “reason for running” but it’s early and I won’t beat that to death just yet.
The other political ad that caught my attention this week is from Arizona’s 3rd Congressional district where Dan Quayle’s son Ben Quayle is running for Congress. In my opinion, this ad is everything that’s wrong with politics today. For starters, it utilizes every cliche in political advertising. Granted it doesn’t use out-of-context quotes, gavel noises and black and white photos of the opponent, so it’s not the worst ad of all time. But it does highlight what Quayle and his people must think of voters. Here’s a possible checklist of what his campaign was going for during the creation of this thing:
- Sappy, dramatic voice – check
- Slow piano music – check
- Ultra-close close-up of candidate – check
- Use of hyperbole – check (if you don’t think so, consider this: Are President Obama’s first 2 years the worst 2 years of any president in our country’s history?)
- Attack on Washington – check (I know EVERYONE does this, but he’s not even running against the incumbent or against a specific issue, but rather the amorphous blog that is Washington D.C. culture)
Lastly, I know this isn’t a political ad cliche, but I also object to the phrase “knock the hell out of the place”??? It’s kinda funny too, because I don’t object to attacking the status quo, running with new energy or ideas, or trying to bring some common sense to Washington-style politics. This ad specifically just doesn’t seem to come from an honest or serious place. Based on this ad, I don’t believe Ben Quayle is running for any other reason beside Ben Quayle. I could be wrong and I look forward to being proved wrong.
Unfortunately, I highly doubt that will happen. Quayle didn’t offer any ideas or solutions and didn’t speak about this country in practical, real terms. I don’t deny that drug cartels (especially in AZ) and taxes are highly derisive and great campaign issues, but I didn’t hear one new idea in any of the Quayle ads that I watched or on his website. Speaking in vague generalities and attacking President Obama might be popular short-term solutions to getting elected in certain districts, but these are not the practices of serious people who want make practical improvements.
So, I guess I shouldn’t get that fired up to find another politician who is up to the same old tricks, but I’m tired of people using shortcuts and fear to rile up voters knowing that people are too lazy or busy to look beyond a 30 second commercial. This isn’t a time for shortcuts, hyperbole and cliche. This is a time for real people with good ideas to step forward and run honest, serious campaigns. I think those people exist on both sides of the political fence (our current “worst” President being one). But as voters, we can’t stand for this anymore. We’re not stupid and I’m tired of being treated like we are.
Quick caveat – I’m generalizing the Ben Quayle effect across a large group of lazy politicians who use these tactics to get elected. I don’t actually think it applies to the two candidates running for Senate in CT. That’s why this Pickle post fits together on one hand and doesn’t fit together on the other. From everything I’ve seen, McMahon is serious about Connecticut and has offered various economic and business plans aimed at jobs, taxes and small businesses. Likewise, no one can question Blumenthal’s commitment to serving the people of Connecticut. His lack of personal energy, notwithstanding; he knows how to pull the levers of power and get things done. I’m not exactly sure what he wants to get done, yet, but I expect to hear more from him in the coming days.